Sex Offenders In Your Neighborhood: One Woman's Shocking Discovery
Published July 31st, 2013
WILLISTON, Fla. -- Nine registered sex offenders living under one roof... and it's completely legal.
It might be good to know your neighbors, but for one Levy County woman, knowing your neighbors meant discovering some dirty laundry.
She asked us not to use her real name, but as a home owner and mother of 2, "Jane" was shocked at what she found on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender database.
After recieving several updates showing the same Williston address... she used the FDLE neighborhood search to find nine registered offenders living in one single family home, less than a mile from her house.
"I kept noticing that house popping up," she says, "and then there was more, and then there was more, and suddenly there was 9 and I thought, 'people need to know this.'"
We set out to investigate and confirmed 8 men currently live at the home on Northeast 35th Street in Williston, the ninth lists the home as his permament address but is currently behind bars.
Records also show several other registered offenders live on that same street at different addresses.
Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum says deputies have known about the living arrangements for over a year and keep special watch over the area.
"From a patrol and proactive standpoint, our deputies are aware of that," McCallum says, "and we keep a pretty constant contact and patrol of that area."
While it's certainly an unusual circumstance, this is legal.
For most offenders, state law requires convicted offenders stay a minimum of 1,000 feet from any area designed for children - like schools and playgrounds - while they're serving probation.
Even though they're compliant with residency requirements, Jane says she was concerned about children in her neighborhood living close to the offenders.
"I know the sheriff's department is keeping an eye on this home but i don't know if they can be there 24 hours a day watching these people," she says.
And that, Sheriff McCallum says, is why input from neighbors is so important.
"It's vitally important especially in this area," he says, "because the citizens that are living in those areas, they can recognize something out of the ordinary."
As for Jane, she wants people to know how helpful FDLE's alerts can be.
"I've been able to keep track of who's moving in within a certain distance of my home, my mother's home and my mother in laws home, because that's where my children are regularly," she says.
It's an empowering reminder of just how knowing your neighbors can keep you safe.
For more information about FDLE's offender database and to search your own neighborhood visit: http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/Search.jsp
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