CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s a shocking number.
Nearly 300 registered sex offenders in Ohio are missing or wanted by police. 19 Investigates found that number has nearly doubled in the last 16 months.
We spoke to one local sheriff’s office about how they track down non-compliant sex offenders.
19 Investigates was there in May 2019 when the Summit County Sheriff’s Office carried out random verification checks, making sure sex offenders are staying where they say they are.
“We take our job very seriously, and this is a very important duty that we’re responsible for,” said Inspector Bill Holland.
We found nearly 200 non-compliant sex offenders living in Ohio in May 2019.
More than a year later, 19 Investigates discovered that number has risen to 280.
At least 95 offenders -- more than a third -- are missing from Northeast Ohio.
“Non-compliant” means convicted sex offenders didn’t register on time, wrote down a fake address, or moved but didn’t update their address.
That means deputies may not be able to find them if they need to.
Holland said sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it’s not.
“For instance, there are times where say a sex offender does not come in to register, and we think maybe he’s trying to abscond from the system, and he could be dead,” Holland said.
Right now, Summit County has about 30 non-compliant sex offenders out of about 1,000 registered adult sex offenders.
Some have to check in every 90 days depending on their level of offense.
Others, only once a year.
“Some of the offenders, when they’re arrested, they’re sentenced, they serve their time and they’re released. They’re registered sex offenders, they’ll never re-offend,” Holland said.
They worry about the repeat offenders the most.
19 Investigates found some sex offenders haven’t updated their addresses for a few years.
Summit County has seen a slight increase in non-compliance.
Those offenders will be arrested if they’re caught, and depending on their original offense, it’s a significant charge.
Homelessness is another major problem they face.
“It adds a little bit more of a challenge, but that’s what we’re here for. Part of our duties is to monitor the sex offenders and if they’re homeless it’s just one extra step,” Holland said.
You can check to see if a sex offender lives near you and even find out which ones are non-compliant here in the Ohio Attorney General’s database.
If you live in Summit County, you can check for non-compliant sex offenders here.
If you get a notification a registered sex offender is living in your neighborhood, but you know he or she is not, you can call your local sheriff’s department. You can also give them a call if you know where one of the non-compliant sex offenders is currently living.