CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – There are currently 575 registered sex offenders in Horry County. The Sheriff’s Office tracks them through their home addresses listed on the state’s sex offender registry. However, 15 of the offenders on the list are registered as homeless, making it harder for law enforcement to track them down.
“That guy that we just left, he’s been living there ever since I’ve been doing this for years, he’s been staying at that one place. Now the homeless guy, I may not be able to get up with him for a couple months,” Deputy Andrew Cooper, who is responsible for checking in on the sex offenders in the county said.
Many homeless sex offenders list their home address as motels and street corners. One in Horry County uses the Walmart parking lot as their address. Sgt. Keely Hucks who leads the county’s sex offender registry unit says it’s legal, as long as homeless offenders register at the general vicinity where they stay.
“For instance, they may say they are homeless in a parking lot in their vehicle, there are no regulations saying they can’t be homeless, so we would actually go to that parking lot and check that vehicle there,” Sgt. Hucks said.
Sgt. Hucks says tracking the homeless offenders isn’t much different than finding the others.
However, some advocates for the victims of these sex offenders say it can be unsettling not knowing the specific location where their perpetrator lives.
“That’s difficult because you don’t know where they’re going to be at. When they have no permanent or temporary address, or no place to stay, that can be very difficult for victims to know where their perpetrator might be,” Tracy Bowie, Executive Director for Horry County’s Rape Crisis Center said.
Deputy Cooper says he knows the danger and does his job to protect the community from these perpetrators.
“Some of these are actual predators that prey on children and hurt women, and they’re serious. They need to be kept up with,” Deputy Cooper said. “I surprise them, that way everybody is on the up and up. If I show up and they’re not telling us the correct information and they’re not truthful with us, it shows.”
If a sex offender isn’t being truthful with law enforcement, deputies will put a warrant out for their arrest. Offenders have three business days to let the Sheriff’s Office know they have moved, even if they moved into a different room at their hotel. In the state of South Carolina, a convicted sex offender must register as a sex offender for life.
News13 reached out to Walmart for a statement about the sex offender who registered at their store’s address, but did not hear back in time for the publication of this article.
To visit Horry County’s Sex Offender Registry, click here.