|Updated: 10/31/2012 2:36 pm
||Published: 10/30/2012 8:32 pm
On Halloween night, your kids will go door-to-door dressed up in costume. But do you know whose doors they'll be knocking on?
In some cities, registered sex offenders are banned from passing out candy and their lights must be turned off on Halloween. That's not the case in Tulsa, where police warn, many delinquent sex offenders have not properly registered.
Sex offenders are not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a safe zone: school, playground, or daycare, according to state law.
FOX23's Abbie Alford discovered a sex offender living only a block and a half away from Springdale Elementary in Tulsa. He has not checked in with police.
"These kids do not need to worry about me. My neighbors don't need to worry about me. I am not a child molester, I am not a rapist, I am not a flasher, I am not a peeping Tom," said the man, who did not want to be identified.
Turns out, he is a level one sex offender, which means he was convicted of a lesser offense. Nine years ago, police caught him exposing himself to an undercover officer. He is supposed to register for 17 years. But, he hasn't, he says, because of the strict zones that limit where he can live in the city of Tulsa.
"I am not going to be homeless. If they want to take me to jail, so be it," he said.
Because he failed to register, his neighbors don't know he's a sex offender.
"I had no idea, I really had no idea," said one neighbor.
TPD says only one in five convicted sex offenders registers with police.
"We have several hundred in Tulsa that we have no idea where they are living," said Sgt. John Adams with TPD.
Since lawmakers created the safe zone law six years ago, 431 offenders in Tulsa have checked in.
There are only a few pockets throughout the city where sex offenders are allowed to live.
"I know they have to go somewhere. But they don't need to be around these children," said Tulsa dad Donnie Fitzgerald. "We try to find out who is in the neighborhood and who is around the school."
"We have to rely on citizens to tell us where a sex offender lives [if they're not registered properly]," said Sgt. Adams.
An app like Life 360 tracks registered sex offenders, including Tracy Whitlow in Tulsa. Turns out he can live in a safe zone near a park because he owned the house before the safe zone law went into effect. In other words, Whitlow, who served time for molestation, is "grandfathered in."
Police say most predators are close to home, not strangers but someone familiar to the child.
Still, this Halloween, officers say parents can't be too careful. Do your homework, and above all, know your neighbors before your child knocks.
We've attached a couple of links where you can check registered sex offenders, through the Tulsa Co. Sheriff's Office or the Dept. of Corrections. You can check your neighborhood by zip code. You can also get a list from your local police department or county sheriff's office.