As children plan costumes and jokes for Halloween trick-or-treating Monday, adults can prepare by spotting potentially dangerous homes along routes.
Some states have laws that require registered sex offenders not to partake in trick-or-treating – instructing them to dim the lights of their home and place a sign in their yard that says “absolutely no trick or treating.”
But Kansas is not one of those states, so sex offenders are allowed to hand out candy to children at their doorsteps.
Some offenders are specifically prohibited from being around children, but Melissa Underwood, spokeswoman for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said the majority are not.
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The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has an offender registration database at www.kbi.ks.gov/registeredoffender/GeographicalSearch.aspx. The site allows users to search all offenders registered as living within one, two or three miles of a specific address, ZIP code or county. It also allows for name-specific searches.
The bureau’s site then shows a map color-coded by sex offenders, violent offenders – such as murderers – and drug offenders.
Each marker on the map belongs to a specific offender. People can click on each icon to see the offender’s mug shot, charges, current address, age, height, weight, eye color, tattoos, scars, vehicle information and details of the offender’s crimes, including victims’ ages and genders.
Underwood said people should be wary of all offenders, but should check each offense, because not all registered offenders pose the same levels of danger.
Underwood said Halloween can complicate traditional safety tips about avoiding strangers because of costumes and the holiday’s door-to-door tradition.
Adam Pfannenstiel, communications director for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said sex offender monitoring varies for each parolee. He said officers might check in with low-risk offenders prior to Halloween to create a plan for trick-or-treat night, while high-risk offenders might require random visits Monday.
But in general, Pfannenstiel said, adults should stay by their children at all times.
“It’s not necessarily just people on the registry, but anyone that’s unfamiliar to you.”
By the numbers
2,891total registered offenders in Sedgwick County
1,555 registered sex offenders in Sedgwick County
730 registered violent offenders in Sedgwick County
606 registered drug offenders in Sedgwick County
Halloween safety tips for children
▪ A trusted adult should be with children at all times.
▪ Walk with a larger group of family or friends.
▪ Wear something bright.
▪ Carry a flashlight.
▪ Visit only well-lighted homes.
▪ Never enter a stranger’s home.
▪ Parents should sort through candy before children eat it.
Source: Wichita Police Department