Avoiding Sex Offenders on Halloween - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Avoiding Sex Offenders on Halloween

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RICHLAND, Wash. - Thousands of children are preparing to invade neighborhoods looking for candy, but if trick or treaters knocked on the wrong door, they could be scarred for life.

Sex offenders, scattered through out the Tri-Cities, pose a significant risk to innocent children. Halloween can be a fun time for kids to dress up and stockpile sweets, but not every person handing out candy has the same intentions. For some seeing kids at the door is like bringing drinks to a recovering alcoholic.

Kids look forward to Halloween every year. Parents can enjoy it too, but these days it requires a lot more work. Hundreds of sex offenders live all over the Tri-Cities. And police said parents need to take the initiative to shield their children.

"If you view the safety of our kids as a layered defense. I think the first layer of defense rests with the children's parents," said Capt. Mike Cobb, Richland Police Department.   

Richland police said officers are calling sex offenders and issuing strict guidelines.

"They are to turn off the lights. They're not to answer the door," said Cobb.    

But in Pasco and Kennewick, police said they're not going to spell it out for offenders.

"They know what they're supposed to be doing or not doing based on the conditions of their probation and if they violate those conditions contacting kids out in the community then they'll be subject to arrest," said Capt. Jim Raymond, Pasco Police Department.   

Police said the best way for parents for avoid potential predators: Look them up online. If you Google "Washington Sex Offender" it'll direct you to the state registry. If you type in your address, you can find out exactly how many sex offenders live near your home and what streets they live on.

And when you head out tonight you can worry a little less about who's handing out candy to your children.