TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Halloween is just a few days away, and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is taking proactive steps to keep the community secure during the holiday.
“No handing out candy. No dressing in a costume. Keep the lights off,” Chronister told a registered sex offender today. “It would be even better if you could put a sign out.”
The sheriff and his deputies are going around, door-knocking on sex offenders’ homes in the county, reminding them of the rules of their probation.
“It’s a heavy lift on our part, making contact with almost 1,221 individuals,” Chronister explained. “A lot of times, as you can imagine, not everyone’s home on the first knock, so we’ll continue to pursue them until we’re able to make contact with them.”
8 On Your Side tagged along Thursday to three residences Chronister checked in on. Two out of the three people were home and courteous, according to the sheriff. His team will check back on the third person later.
“Almost every single time they understand the purpose of the visit,” Chronister said. “They’re very courteous.”
The sheriff’s office only arrested one sex offender last year for Halloween-related crimes. This year during the checks, they’ve only caught a couple of people illegally accessing the internet.
There will be both undercover and uniformed patrols out on the 31st.
“You’ll see a heavy uniform presence out cruising around with our cruise lights on just to remind everyone that it is Halloween,” Chronister said. “Be cautious that our young people are out in the roadway.”
The sheriff also reminded parents that sometimes you have to be the bad guy when keeping your kids safe during Halloween.
“Children are only concerned about one thing, and that’s candy,” Chronister said. “Getting as much candy as they can. We as parents have to be the protectors.”
That means checking the candy for anything suspicious, possibly homemade, and keeping an eye on your children throughout the night, especially when it gets dark.