Concerns over Halloween & sex offenders - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Concerns over Halloween & sex offenders

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The majority of sex offenders in Horry County will be allowed to hand out candy to children on Halloween.

State law only prohibits sex offenders on probation or parole from participating in Halloween activities such as handing out candy or putting up decorations.

Horry County Sheriff's Deputy Lieutenant Dowe Enzor said parents need to be aware of sex offenders living near their families, especially on Halloween.

Enzor suggested using the State or County sex offender tracking web site to keep track of offenders living nearby.

"It allows [parents] to put in an address or city, and lets you know who's around you, so you know who's around you and who you need to look out for," Enzor said.

Socastee Resident Addrienne Highsmith lives within a quarter mile of 3 registered sex offenders, and despite the fact all three were convicted of crimes against children, she said she is not worried about her two children on Halloween.

"I stay with [my children while trick or treating].  I think parents should stay with their kids and they will be safe in any case, regardless [of whether sex offenders are nearby]," Highsmith said.

Johnny Chestnut lives next door to Highsmith and has 3 children of his own.  He said the thought of sex offenders handing candy to children is disconcerting, but does not think there is a reasonable way to prevent it. 

"I don't like the idea of it, but I think it would a very difficult thing to regulate," Chestnut said.

Horry County Probation and Parole officials say about 80 of the more than 420 active sex offenders in the county are on probation or parole, and the rest have no restrictions on Halloween activity.

Officials say extra officers will monitor offenders on probation or parole on Halloween, making sure none of them put up decorations, leave their porch lights on or hand out candy to children.

Probation and Parole officers will also enforce a 5:30 PM curfew on Halloween for Offenders on probation or parole.

Horry County has an online data bank of all offenders and an email alert system that allows you to be notified when a sex offender moves to your area. To sign up go to: www.icrimewatch.net/index.php?agencyid=54080&disc

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