You’ve heard of the websites that can locate sex offenders near you. Maybe you’ve even used them to scope out your neighborhood. But are those websites giving you the full picture? What if some sex offenders are flying under the radar?
According to a recently released study from Utica College, more than 16 percent of sex offenders attempt to avoid mandatory monitoring by manipulating their identity. They use multiple aliases, use various personal identifying information such as social security numbers or date of birth, steal identity information from family members, manipulate their name, use family or friends’ addresses, alter their physical appearance or move to states with less stringent laws. Finding ways to slide under the radar means registered sex offenders could live near schools and playgrounds, or even gain unapproved employment
In one case, 29-year-old Neil Rodreick enrolled in at least four schools in Arizona, posing as a 12-year-old boy. He was finally caught when one school was unable to verify the information on his paperwork.
A parallel study conducted by Utica demonstrated that awareness of identity manipulation of sex offenders is low. Of 223 law enforcement agencies surveyed in 46 states, only five percent knew of an identity manipulation case within their jurisdiction. Close to half (40 percent) of respondents said that they had zero cases, indicating that some may not even be aware of this issue.
Clearly, additional monitoring is needed. Experian offers sex offender monitoring that conducts an in-depth search of sex offender registries in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam to help find and identify sex offenders. It also provides notifications when a sex offender is living in or moves to a customer’s neighborhood, or if a sex offender registers under a different name using a customer’s address. Monitoring identity and credit information is also another way to stay aware of sex offenders using one’s personal credentials.
Do you feel that current sex offender tracking is working? Are there other tools or systems states should be using to track them? As always, let us know via comments, Twitter or Facebook.