HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's a story that every parent and caregiver needs to see, considering the growing number of registered sex offenders in Horry, Florence and surrounding counties.
There are roughly 850 registered offenders in Horry County and another 300 or so in Florence County. So WMBF News investigated who is tracking them, and we found out where your family could be most at risk.
"Paul, it's Rich from the probation office," said South Carolina Senior Agent Richard Loskill, who works for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Loskill is Knocking on doors, making sure registered sex offenders he supervises are home and doing what they're supposed to be doing. "Hey how you doing, sorry to bother you, just doing home visits tonight," said Loskill to one of the offenders on his list.
That offender is one of almost 850 in Horry County, that number up roughly 30 percent from just about two years ago when WMBF News rode along with the Horry County Sheriff's Deputies as they were tracking offenders.
"It shows that at 1:44 p.m., he was traveling 44 miles an hour, right here on main street in Conway," said Loskill, showing us the GPS monitoring devices he uses to keep tabs on roughly 20 other offenders. Only the most recently released offenders or those involved in more serious crimes are mandated to wear the device.
Similar technology can help residents keep tabs on the offenders who live close-by.
You can search a two mile radius from your home address or an entire city by visiting the links to the left.
Of the estimated 850 Horry County sex offenders, you'll find a high concentration of them in Conway, 129. Myrtle Beach has the most with 168, and you'll find lots of them near public schools.
"Within a few blocks there's maybe six or seven registered sex offenders, I can't believe that," said Delisa Campbell, after WMBF News showed her the website which lists the addresses of the nearest registered sex offenders.
"Across the street, that's scary for me and my grandkids," Campbell added.
While sexual assaults are happening all over the county, most appear to be happening in Myrtle Beach, where police say they investigated 315 sex crimes since 2007, most of those in the 29577 zip code.
Horry County police, in that same time, investigated 440 sex crimes. That's only a 28 percent increase in these crimes for the entire county as compared to Myrtle Beach. The county's busiest zip codes for sex crimes were 29526, 29588 and 29579.
"It is a little surprising, especially the Socastee area, in the 29588 zip code, then up the 501 corridor where you have CCU and that out here even in the County near Loris, Longs area which is a little bit surprising also," said Loskill.
Agent Loskill says you can't predict where sex offenders will strike, but he says very few of the offenders on his watch commit repeat offenses, maybe only 5 of the 85 he oversees.
"[Offenders on the list] committed a new offense, not so much another sex offense, but another crime," explains Loskill.
"I don't go around with a black cloud over my head; I got a good family," said one sex offender who agreed to speak with WMBF News.
Unfortunately, Loskill learned the offender may not be playing by the rules.
"We found what looks like marijuana and crack in the car parked in his driveway," said Loskill.
"You just told us minutes ago, you are playing by the rules, but now you've admitted to drinking and using drugs in the past few weeks," comments WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely.
"It's tough, you know. I'm trying, but it's really tough," said the registered sex offender.
"If you have to go back to jail, would the drug use be worth it?" asked Maely.
"No it wouldn't," said the man.
Agent Loskill tells us the offender who admitted to using drugs will be under increased supervision, and increased drug and alcohol testing. Loskill says as long as a sexual offense is not repeated, the goal is to keep offenders out of jail. He says it's actually less expensive to do that rather than send them back behind bars.
The new Horry County law, which went into effect last month, requiring registered sex offenders to not live less than 1000 feet away from schools and public parks only applies to new offenders who locate to those areas, not offenders who are "grandfathered" into the system.