North Carolinians have a new tool to help locate registered sex offenders near homes, schools, parks, or any location, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.
Cooper is making available a free NC Sex Offender Registry application for Android devices developed by his NC Department of Justice. The app is available for download via the Google Play Store or at www.ncdoj.gov.
Approximately 40,000 people have downloaded the version of the app for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® since it launched last year, and an updated version is now available for download via iTunes® or at www.ncdoj.gov, officials said.
“Knowing where sex offenders live can help you plan for your family’s safety,” Cooper said. “Now people can have this critical safety information at their fingertips, wherever they are.”
The app allows users to search for registered North Carolina sex offenders by GPS location or street address. Offenders’ home addresses are pinpointed on the app’s on-screen map with red markers. Users can search for all offenders within a one, three or five mile radius and can zoom in on the map.
Offenders’ names and addresses are listed below the interactive map. Clicking on an offender’s name allows users to view detailed information, including photos and a physical description. An additional click on the offenses button pulls up a list of the offender’s crimes requiring registration, including the age of the victim(s).
The app was developed by the Department of Justice’s information technology staff using information submitted by local sheriffs to the NC Sex Offender Registry maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation.
North Carolina’s Sex Offender Registry includes the photos, names, addresses and conviction information of more than 20,000 registered sex offenders. Convicted sex offenders are required by law to register with their local sheriff’s office and to update the information available to the public through the registry.
However, a sex offender can change residences and many offenders move frequently. Thanks to the app and to email alerts available since 2007, users can learn about offenders in their area without having to continually check the registry website.
Users can sign up at ncdoj.gov to receive email alerts whenever a registered offender moves near their home, school, day care center or any other address they choose, or to receive alerts about a particular sex offender.
North Carolinians can also get an alert by telephone when a convicted sex offender moves into their zip code, or get telephone alerts about a specific offender, through the NC SAVAN system by calling 1-877-627-2826.
Like the NC Sex Offender Registry website, the app does not include details on out-of-state crimes committed by offenders registered in NC. Users have to go to that state’s sex offender registry to determine the underlying convictions for out-of-state offenses.
By making the public more aware of the location of registered sex offenders, officials say the new app can also help law enforcement crack down on offenders who move without providing a new address as required by law. Anyone with information about a convicted sex offender who is not properly registered should notify their local sheriff.
“Law enforcement works hard to make sure offenders register, and giving people better access to registry information can help make sure offenders follow the law,” Cooper said.
Under North Carolina law, convicted sex offenders must register with the sheriff’s office where they live in person and must verify their address every six months. State law requires that most convicted sex offenders register for a minimum of thirty years, but are eligible to petition the court to be removed if they meet certain criteria after ten years.
If the offenders are not removed by the court, they remain on the registry for life. Recidivists, aggravated offenders and predators must remain on the registry for life. Failure to register as required is a felony, as is assisting someone in avoiding their duty to register