NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - In a neighborhood where it's easy to find young children playing up and down the street, word that a child molester is lurking in the area sounded a loud alarm among residents.
"It's just disgusting that there are people out there like that," said Cathy Wilson, 60, who has lived in the 9th Ave. neighborhood for decades. She's watched kids grow up and have kids of their own, and said people pay close attention to strangers.
"This is a very big target because there are a lot of children over here. The school's over there. I mean this is a family-oriented neighborhood," Wilson said.
When deputies put out an alert that two nine-year-olds, a boy and a girl, were targeted by a predator Friday evening, it got the attention of virtually everyone on the block.
Investigators said the suspect used candy to lure the kids behind a vacant house. One of them was touched in sexual manner, but both ran away screaming before they were assaulted.
The suspect is described as a male between 50 and 70 years old with gray hair.
Rick Taylor said he immediately went to the FDLE website to search for registered sex offenders in his area.
"Went on to see if any of the faces popped up," Taylor said. He pays close attention to the kids in the neighborhood. As a former homeowners association president, he says he can't help but stay involved. Taylor's hoping the youngsters pay close attention as well.
"Definitely keep the children informed. You know, 'stranger danger' as the old saying was," Taylor said.