MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The ocean draws people to Myrtle Beach from all over the world. Families vacation, walk the boardwalk and enjoy the beach, but sex offenders are also staying oceanside. A significant number of Horry County's sex offenders live in motels and that makes tracking them tough.
Deputies with the Horry County Sheriff's Office gave WMBF News a front-row seat into their efforts to track sex offenders.
Police constantly check to make sure they know where sex offenders are living, but a recent ride along with deputies knocking on doors revealed many aren't where they say they are.
Motels are home to some of Horry County's more than 600 sex offenders. Of the 161 offenders within Myrtle Beach city limits 11 percent live in motels.
Cpl. Doug Hyman tracks offenders almost every day and on a recent ride along, his knocks revealed two offenders were not at their registered addresses. Witnesses at each location told Hyman the offenders moved, which means they both could face charges for moving without notifying the Sheriff first.
"If I can't figure out where he is then at least I'm going to figure out where he's not. If that's here, then I'm going to charge him with failing to maintain accurate registry information," said Hyman.
But just showing up and not finding the offender isn't enough to begin a criminal case.
"The next step would simply be an investigation to determine how long they've been gone, what kind of documentation we can get to prove that they're no longer there and act on what we find there. Whether it be in the way of a warrant for that person for leaving and not notifying us which is a violation of the sex offender laws," said Sgt. Lori Avant, who heads up the division of the Sheriff's Office responsible for tracking sex offenders.
Avant says the process to prove an offender is in violation of the laws governing their registry is the same no matter where an offender lives, but a temporary residence does present a different challenge.
"The more moves there are it simply means the more times we go out for verification," said Avant.
"That's in addition to our regular popping in for verification, so certainly it would mean more man hours out verifying offenders," he adds.
Avant tells WMBF News the Sheriff's Office verifies each offender's address at the very least on a quarterly basis. The offenders are also required to update their registry information in person yearly or according to the terms of their case.
Hyman was able to find one offender in the right place on the ride along. He verifies the address listed and makes sure the offender has the same car that's listed on the registry as well.
The offender is cleared until his next check, but the ones Hyman doesn't catch up with will remain on his radar until an investigation reveals if charges are warranted.