One of the primary goals of many home shoppers is finding a neighborhood that is safe. That makes sense. No one wants to live in constant fear of having their valuables stolen—or worse, being assaulted. However, there is one specific “safety” criteria that makes little sense to weigh heavily in one’s home search: Registered Sex Offenders.
Searching for registered sex offenders is easy with sites like CrimeReports, which puts links to your local law enforcement’s detailed offender info right on a map. However, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s particularly useful.
Before I go on, I want to be very clear that sex crimes are serious business, and I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the crimes in any way. That said, in my opinion it’s silly to fret about the number of registered sex offenders living in an area, and even more ridiculous use it as a major deciding factor in your home search. Here are a few reasons why:
- Most sex offenders assault people they already know.
- They’re registered, so you know exactly who they are.
- If they want to re-offend, they aren’t limited to the neighborhood they live in.
- It’s the unregistered and uncaught criminals that you should really worry about.
Allow me to illustrate some of these points. Using the aforementioned CrimeReports, I pulled up a map of my own neighborhood and started clicking through to the first ten offender detail pages nearest to my home. Here are some excerpts from the descriptions of their crimes:
- …sexually assaulting the unknown 14 year old male victim… grabbed his buttocks…
- …sexually assaulting the known 13 year old female victim… sexually assaulting the known 14 year old female victim…
- …entered a on-line chat room. Once in this chat room he committed his lewd offense by exposing in front of his web cam…
- …sexually assaulting the known six year old male victim…
- …was 21 years of age at the time of the crime molested a 14 year old female. His vehicle was parked in a posted no trespassing area and he and the victim were watching a pornographic DVD inside the vehicle. Both were naked…
- The victim in this crime was a 11 year old female who was molested when the victim was taken on walks… His next victim was a 12 year old female who had gone to his home to play video games…
- …was on line and talking to what he believed to be a 12 year old and in fact was a detective.
- …sexually assaulting the known female victim from her age of one to five years old…
- The victim in these crimes were both 14 year-old females, known to the offender.
- …he harbored the known (he had known her about a month) 14 year old female victim after she had runaway from home.
Again, all of the crimes described above are inexcusable, but do any of these guys really sound like people you should live in fear of just because they happen to live a couple blocks away from you?
The majority of registered sex offenders (and seven of the ten in the list above) commit their crime against someone they already know (a friend or family member). Since a registered sex offender is, well, registered, it’s pretty easy to make sure your wife and kids aren’t spending time with him, even if he lives just down the block.
In the specific examples I pulled up from around my home, two of the three offenders who did not assault people they already knew committed their crimes online. I understand that with this newfangled internet thing you can go anywhere you want right from the comfort of your own home. Do you think that by living in some sterile suburban protective bubble you can avoid these online predators?
Speaking of mobility, you realize that the internet isn’t the only way for a sex predator to find potential victims, right? Sex offenders can drive cars & ride buses just like normal people. Just because you don’t have any living within a mile of your home doesn’t mean that there aren’t any hanging out in your neighborhood or in the parks or businesses you frequent.
But really when it comes down to it, this whole registered sex offender thing is a misdirection anyway. People worry about it because the information is out there and easy to find. But how many registered drunk drivers, registered drug dealers, registered car thieves, registered assaulters, or registered burglars do you have in your neighborhood? Oh right, none, because most of the crimes that home owners should be worried about don’t require offenders to register their location for life. And what about the sexual predators that just haven’t been caught yet? For all you know one could be living right next door to that home you just made an offer on.
Worrying about registered sex offenders is silly. Sure, if everything else is equal, anyone would rather not live in a neighborhood with a handful of known creeps. But everything else is never equal. It’s better to know what you’re getting into than to be ignorant, but if you’re ruling out a neighborhood just because of registered sex offenders, you’re limiting yourself unnecessarily, and possibly missing out on a great home for no good reason.