Searching for predators in your neighborhood: What you need to know
14,500 registered sex offenders in Arizona, but if you're researching your neighbors -- you won't find many of them in the state's database.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN-TV) – A man who broke into east side home and molested a little girl is still on the loose. Detectives combed the neighborhood and the surrounding desert, but were not able the man who went into the bedroom of three girls – ages 6, 8, and 10 Monday morning – while they were sleeping.
That incident combined with many unanswered questions about Isabel Celis’s disappearance, parents are on the edge. So how well do you know your neighbors?
Experts said one of the best places to research predators in your area, is the Arizona Department of Public Safety website. It stores information from local law enforcement agencies, but if you won’t get information on predators who are considered low risk at Level 1.
Cynthia Flores, a Prevention Specialist with the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, said receiving community notice when a pedophile moves to your neighborhood isn’t enough.
“There’s a whole group of people we haven’t identified for haven’t caught, so those community notices are just a small portion of the number of people who can be potentially dangerous for our children,” Flores told 9 On Your Side.
State law only requires the community be informed if the predator is Level 2 (intermediate risk) or Level 3 (high risk). The classifications are determined by 19 factors, including whether the predator has received treatment and the severity of the crime.
Kathy Rau, the Executive Director at the Southern Arizona Children’s Advoacy Center, was a police detective for 25 years.
“This is an Arizona assessment tool. Unfortunately – and this may be where we have a problem with the system – we don’t have a national registry, so each state scores and makes those determinations on their own,
However, there’s also the problem of those sex offenders that police have lost track of: 204 known absconders statewide, according to DPS.
“There are quite a list of sex offenders that law enforcement’s looking for that left their residence and did not register,” Rau said.
While people are on high alert, experts said it’s important to teach your kids to be vigilant around everyone – not just strangers.
“We still want to talk to our children. They need to talk to a trusted adult if they find something that makes them scared or uncomfortable, even if it’s someone they know or if it’s someone their parents like,” Flores advised.
Other resources include the National Center for Missing an Exploited Children and Southern Arizona Children’s Action Alliance.