Courtesy: NC Department Of Justice
There are now more than 14,000 sex offenders living in North Carolina. That number is a tally of just those who are on the books with the state's sex offender registery.
Nationally, there are 570,000 registered offenders.
Even more troubling is that a U.S. Department of Justice funded research has revealed 16% of the offenders nationwide are beating the system by stealing identities to avoid being tracked. Some of the abusers are hiding from the law in plain sight. They are out working jobs their criminal records disqualifies them from. However, few people, including law enforcement agencies, know because they aren't aware of the tactic.
One month on the job, and Corporal Brian Henderson with the Guilford County Sex Offender Registry has met more sex offenders than he ever wanted to know.
"We do sweeps, we bring in 40-50 officers, we give them all about 10 files and say, 'go out and knock on these doors,' and in one morning we'll touch 700 sex offenders," said Corporal Henderson, commenting on the 700 sex offenders registered in Gulford County.
Regular compliance checks have kept a majority of the 14,000 North Carolina sex offenders on the books.
"There are victims for every one of these folks that I come out here for," said Corporal Henderson. "That's what I'm doing this for. To make sure there's not another victim."
A new study, paid for by the Department of Justice, reveals a startling statistic. One in six sex offenders is re-inventing himself.
What does that mean? Some sex offenders are using fake birthdates, stealing social security numbers and making up addresses to avoid being tracked.
Researchers estimate there are 92,000 sex offenders among us, changing their identity.
News 2's Faith Abubey called investigators and deputies in the Triad, and most said they'd never heard of "identity stealing sex offenders." The researchers say that's not surprising, considering how new this trend is. What's more problematic? They don't have the resources to stay on top of it.
The Department of Justice is now working with the researchers to find out if there's something they can do to stay a step ahead of sex offenders who change their identities.
Until then - they suggest we all get familiar with the online sex offender registry.
The researchers are working on breaking down the numbers state-by-state. When News 2 gets the North Carolina numbers, we'll let you know.