HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Halloween means streets will be filled with trick-or-treaters, but parents should be cautious about which homes they let their child go up to.
Being aware, educated and taking extra precautions before going out for the night could help avoid a potentially dangerous situation, according to the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Horry County is among the top five counties in South Carolina with the highest number of sex offenders, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
“Right now, we have 624 active sex offenders in our county, and out of that, approximately 100 of those [are] on probation or parole,” said Capt. Sherri Smith of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.
The SCDPPP issued a curfew from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Halloween for sex offenders who have crimes against children. Offenders also are not allowed to have exterior lights or Halloween decorations, and they are not allowed to engage in any trick-or-treat activities.
“All night tonight, our agents around the state are going to be out and conducting home visits on all these offenders that are supposed to be staying home,” said Taylor Cox, SCDPPP’s director of field programs.
The sheriff’s office provided three tools for parents to use on Halloween.
Parents can search the sex offender registry to know their neighborhood, register for free email alerts that show when a sex offender moves nearby or download the Offender Watch Parent app. Parents can use the app to see sex offenders who are within one mile of where their child is.
“If parents just make sure they’re aware, if something raises those hairs on the back of your neck or like, you get goosebumps, you know, your parental instincts are kicking in for a reason,” Cox said.
Smith gave advice on how parents can best keep their kids safe on Halloween.
“Know that probation and parole is out there tonight, checking in on the sex offenders,” she said. “If you have any problems, if you have any questions about it, call us, let us ease your minds about that. We answer questions all day long about sex offenders because people are concerned about that. [Also] check your street before you trick or treat.”
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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.