Register or be arrested - that's the warning Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is sending to convicted sex offenders.
"Texans very simply deserve better than have these unregistered sex offenders on the loose," says Abbott. Failing to register as a sex offender in Texas is a third degree felony. Violators face two to ten years in prison. To crackdown on unregistered sex offenders, Abbott is launching "Operation Missing Predator." He says he is making it a priority to assure you local authorities know who is living in your neighborhood.
|Lubbock PD Registered Sex Offenders|
Here in Lubbock, law enforcement tell us there are about 300 registered sex offenders and there's no way of knowing how many are out there who are not registered. They say it is a problem here in and everyday agencies work together to find those offenders who seem to slip between the cracks.
"For these people they don't want to hassle with it. They don't want to move in where flyers are sent to say that there's a sex offender there so that's why you have people who don't come in and register, they don't want to be tracked," explains Jennifer Bassett, Prosecutor for the Lubbock District Attorney's Office. That's when law enforcement step in to track these offenders who seem to avoid the system.
Bassett says state law requires sex offenders to register once a year and they must update their registration within seven days of moving but that's where things can get complicated. "What we see a lot is you've got some one out on parole, from a different state who's supposed to be registering here and they get lost," she says.
"If an agency doesn't tell us, they don't send us any information we have no idea that they're there unless it just happens to come up that we find them," explains Corporal Mark Long.
He tells NewsChannel 11 just last week one of those out of state offenders who failed to register and was caught. He had been in Lubbock for almost three years but it took an unfortunate turn before he was tracked. "He happened to be a suspect in a sexual assault case and upon running his criminal background we saw that he had a conviction in Florida that would require him to register and we contacted Florida and they said yes he is a sex offender," says Corporal Long.
He says that's exactly what law enforcement is trying to prevent - sex offenders from striking again. It's a race to find them before it's too late.
Law enforcement tells us that they keep close tabs on those that are already registered by doing thorough checks twice a year.
|Courts & Crime|