LEE COUNTY, Fla.-- Next week, thousands of children in Southwest Florida will be going door to door asking for candy. But do you really know who the stranger is behind the door your child is knocking on?
Law enforcement will be keeping a close eye on sex offenders, making sure they are following the rules on Halloween.
Florida has more than 46,000 sex offenders and sex predators who were convicted of sex crimes in its statewide database.
Sex offenders are required to register their permanent address with law enforcement. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a database with this information.
Many of them continue to live among us after serving time.
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All parents can view this interactive map to see where any registered sex offenders might be in their neighborhood, or where their children plan on trick-or-treating.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says parents should look at the map before their kids go trick-or-treating.
“It’s public record as to what address they are residing in, that way you guys are able to get the information as to where they are in your neighborhood, so your kids know they can’t go to those houses on Halloween,” said Caitlin Mumma, LCSO Public Information Officer.
There are 323 sex offenders registered in Fort Myers. There are more than 220 in Naples and Lehigh Acres.
There are strict rules sex offenders have to follow on Halloween that are mandated by the state:
1. Porch lights must be turned off.
2. Window blinds need to be closed.
3. They can’t pass out candy.
4. They can’t have Halloween decorations outside their home to attract kids.
5. Sex offenders are not allowed to answer the door to trick-or-treaters.
6. They can’t dress up in Halloween costumes.
7. They are also not allowed to attend any Halloween parties where children will be present.
However, there is no guarantee they will listen. So, parents need to keep a close eye on their kids on Halloween and have a conversation with them beforehand about who’s in their neighborhood.
Deputies will be patrolling the streets, to ensure everyone's safety on Halloween night.
“We always have deputies on patrol even for holidays, just for precautionary reasons to keep your kids and the community safe during holidays,” said Mumma.
The sheriff’s office says they will arrest offenders who break the law.