Stranger danger incidents share common thread

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 07:24:19-04
Following a string of 'stranger danger' reports in Collier county, Fox 4 uncovered the suspicious encounters happened in areas with high concentrations of sexual predators.

Collier County Sheriff's office, closed three of the ten cases they were investigating after ruling out malice intent.

Deputies now say the man who encountered a nine-year-old girl last Friday near Avalon Elementary was simply concerned for her safety because she crossed in front of his bike.

Meanwhile, the incident involving two kids. along SW 20th place in Golden Gate back on April 15th involved a special-needs student who didn't have any ill intent.  As far as the case from April 13th on Crestview Circle in Immokalee, deputies say they were unable to find any evidence of people trying to lure kids into the woods.

But seven cases are still wide open, and Fox 4 discovered that most of those incidents occurred in areas where dozens of sexual offenders call home.

At Whistlers Cove Apartments in East Naples where a 7-year-old was approached by a man offering candy, 47 sexual predators came up on the Department of Justice's Sexual Predatory registry.

Another 32 live within 3 miles of Immokalee middle school, where another incident occurred while a student was walking to school.

Fort Myers Police Captain Jim Mulligan says he was surprised by the sheer volume of cases in the neighboring county.

"It is shocking," said Capt. Mulligan. "It's not only one person, it's several people and that's the scary thing."

Cpt. Mulligan says this many suspicious encounters in one month is uncommon; and unfortunately tracking them down is challenging.

"It's difficult if they're not complying with their sanctions. it's the ones that abscond from that and don't meet that anymore and they just don't comply,' said Cpt. Mulligan.

Currently, there are ten sex offenders listed on Collier County Sheriff's Office who have stopped complying with authorities.

They aren't being connected to the recent incidents, but Cpt. Mulligan says it serves as a reminder to always be on alert.

"Children are just like adults we take everything for granted we just walk down the street and we're not observing and we need to be a little more observant for our kids and the kids for themselves," said Cpt. Mulligan."

Click here for a link to the DOJ's sexual offender registry.