ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – With Halloween right around the corner, law enforcement agencies throughout Northeast Florida are reminding parents to know which houses your children should avoid while trick-or-treating.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has a tool on its website called OffenderWatch, which allows deputies to monitor the whereabouts of registered sex offenders and predators within a specific neighborhood.
“That includes check-ins, what kind of vehicles they are driving, where they are residing,” explained Chuck Mulligan, with the Sheriff’s Office.
He added that the county created a local ordinance that prohibits registered sex offenders and predators from engaging in Halloween activities.
“They’re not allowed to turn on lights, put up decorations. They are not allowed to hand out candy from their homes. They actually are required to put a sign in their window that states, 'No candy here, we are not participating in trick-or-treat activities,'" Mulligan said. "SJCSO has on its website a sex offender watch icon. If you click on the sex offender watch icon, you can pull up your specific community, and within that, you can see where sex offenders and sex predators live within your neighborhood and therefore can plan what your safe route is.”
You can also register on the site to be notified when a registered sex offender or predator moves in or out of your neighborhood.
“Be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on your children, know where they are going, know who they are with," Mulligan said.
In Duval County, registered sex offenders and predators are prohibited from all Halloween activities. From 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31, or any other day on which Halloween is celebrated, they must post a signs at their residences, including boats or vehicles stating, “No candy or treats here.”
The same rules apply in Clay and Nassau counties. In Putnam County, while registered offenders and predators do not have to post a sign like that, they are not allowed to decorate their homes, pass out candy or dress up.
According to Mulligan, the number of sex offenders or predators within St. Johns County is constantly in flux. He said you can anticipate there are several hundred sex offenders throughout the county at any given time.