With the Halloween season upon us, the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is urging parents to use online tools to know the identity of registered sex offenders in the area where they plan to trick-or-treat.

An online sex offender registry is available for residents of La Porte County allowing parents to conduct a search prior to trick-or-treating to prevent their children from visiting the home of a registered sex offender during door-to-door trick-or-treating.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Department says there are currently about 200 registered sex offenders residing in La Porte County; 63 of which are Sexually Violent Predators and 25 of which are classified as Offenders Against Children. According to the United States Department of Justice, 80% of all addresses have at least one sex offender living within one mile. Forty-five percent of sexual assault victims are under 12, and 75% of victims know their attacker. Over half of all sexual assaults occur within one mile of the victim’s home.

Sheriff John Boyd states: “The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office does an excellent job of insuring that sex offenders reside where they have registered their home addresses so it is crucial that our citizens visit our website to learn who the registered sex offenders are in our community and where they live.” Sheriff Boyd added: “A unique feature to this OffenderWatch system is the ability to enter an address of a neighborhood that you plan on visiting, before heading out for trick-or-treating, and determining the address that you plan to avoid. We urge the public to be proactive and utilize this free tool to help keep your children and family safer this Halloween season.” Sheriff Boyd added: “The Sheriff’s Office is the only Sheriff’s Office in the State of Indiana to utilize mailings along with emails to notify residents of offenders who have moved into neighborhoods. To date, the Sheriff’s Office has sent nearly 8,000 individual mailings to alert residents of a sex offender who has moved into their neighborhood.” In addition, Sheriff’s deputies have personally verified residency claims of sex offenders hundreds of times so far this year.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, as well as all of Indiana’s Sheriffs, utilize OffenderWatch Sex Offender Management System to manage and monitor the whereabouts of these convicted offenders. The site can be accessed through the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office website, which is located at www.laportecountysheriff.com . Once at the website, information about specific offenders can be obtained by entering the offender’s name or searching for potential offenders within a specified radius of any address of interest. Address radiuses of 1/4, 1/2, 1 or 2 miles can be checked for potential offenders.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is very pleased to report that since January 1, 2014, more than 234,297 persons have visited the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office OffenderWatch public website. In addition, citizens can register for email alerts that will notify them if a Sex Offender moves within the selected radius. The Sheriff’s Office encourages the public to utilize these tools to help insure the safety of children this Halloween season.

Specific questions regarding the Sex and Violent Offender Registry can be directed the Registry’s Coordinator, Lisa Harlow, at (219) 326-7700 or (219) 879-3530 ext. 2320 or Detective Gabriel Struss at ext. 2443.