Special Report: Resources to find where sex offenders live this Halloween

Tyler (KYTX) -- For parents, the scariest part of Halloween isn't the costumes or haunted houses, it's the dangers your kids can face while trick-or-treating. We're letting you know how to find sex offenders in your neighborhood and things being done to keep your kids safe.

Little Lucy is one that will be with her parents trick-or-treating on Thursday night. Her mom tells us they won't go too far from home.

 "I just know I can trust my neighbors as far as the candy that they give, and that they aren't suspicious people," Claire Cozad, Lucy's mom, said.

Cozad says living in a neighborhood makes it easy, because you already know most people who answer the door.

"I personally wouldn't choose to venture out to a neighborhood I was unfamiliar with," Cozad said.

And with Lucy's safety their number one priority, her parents aren't opposed to using a database.

"I specifically used it when we were looking for our house to purchase a new home. So I think it is a great tool for any parents with young children," Cozad said.

You start out by going to the Texas Department of Public Safety's web site--then clicking on the "public sex offender registry" tab.

"You can simply put in your area code, hit the search button and it will pull up any registered sex offenders," Trooper Jean Dark with DPS said.

Convicted sex offenders must register with local law enforcement and that information is handed over to DPS. Offenders are even supposed to notify the agency when they move tot keep the maps accurate.

"The more information that you can arm yourself with, the better you are able to protect your child," Trooper Dark said.

And offenders are color coded. Red dots indicate high risk--and yellow and green dots are lower risk.

"As a parent, I'm not going to see a low-risk offender and let my guard down. To me, they are still a registered sex offender," Bob Gray, a supervisor with the Smith County Adult Probation office, said.

Every Halloween, teams from the Smith County adult probation office go out and make sure sex offenders with child restrictions are not handing out candy.

"We encourage them not to have lights on, not to do anything that's going to draw kids to their homes," Gray said.

In Smith County, there are 400 sex offenders, but only 80 are currently under supervision. The good news is, under Gray's watch, he's found them compliant.

"As far as kids going up to the houses and trick-or-treating, we have not found anybody to be violating their terms," Gray said.

Gray says the DPS web site has proved a reliable tool in keeping track of sex offenders, but there are also apps for download on your smart phone.

DPS troopers also say not to let your child wander off alone trick-or-treating, which won't be a problem for Cozad.

"In fact, I think the older they get, the more protective I'll be about thinking what she could get into alone on Halloween night," Cozad said.

A link to the TxDPS Sex Offender Registry is here


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