TAMPA (FOX 13) - Halloween is here, but it's not all tricks and treats. Law enforcement agencies want the community to keep safety in mind--and not just from ghouls and goblins.
In this day and age, sexual predators are a concern. There are probably more than you think and they may be living closer to you than you think. According to the website City -Data.com, there are 244 registered sex offenders in the City of Tampa alone.
We picked a nice middle class neighborhood in North Tampa, put in a family's address, and out popped some important information: the name of a man, and a bit surprisingly, the name of a woman.
"It's disconcerting," said the father of two kids, who lives there. He is the father of a 12 year-old boy, and a 14 year-old girl.
Knowing what he now knows, he is extra cautious,
"I don't let my kids go too far away by themselves," he told FOX 13.
You should be just as wary.
Before your kids head out , check to see how safe your neighborhood is. You can find out the names and addresses of sex offenders in your area by going to fdle.state.fl.us/cms/home.aspx.
Here are some tips the Manatee County Sheriff's Office shared for how to keep your trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween:
- Make sure costumes, wigs and accessories are flame resistant.
- Be sure to carry a flashlight; and costumes should be bright or reflective so children can see and be seen. Putting reflective tape on costumes is another option.
- Masks, costumes and shoes should be well-fitting to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.
- Trick-or-treat with trusted neighbors. Use the Nextdoor Treat Map to plan your route ahead of time and find the safest, most efficient route to the candy.
- Children should stay on sidewalks, look both ways before crossing streets and use established crosswalks wherever possible.
- Props like swords, knives and other objects should be made of soft or flexible material.
- Only visit homes with a front porch light on; and kids should only enter homes if they’re with a trusted adult. Otherwise, Trick-or-Treaters should stay outside.
- Bring a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
- Only factory-wrapped treats should be eaten; homemade treats should be avoided unless the cook is well-known to the trick-or-treater or their family.
- Don't forget to verify addresses of sex offenders living in your neighborhoods by visiting http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/cms/home.aspx.
Even though many law enforcement agencies, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, go door-to-door telling sex predators they can't take part in Halloween, you never know.
Ultimately, your child's safety, at Halloween and throughout the year, is your responsibility.
Don't forget to tweet us pictures of your kids (and pets!) in their costumes with the hashtag #gooddaytb for a chance to be featured on-air.