Number of registered sex offenders increasing in Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office keeps track of roughly 1,800 sex offenders in the county and that number is going up.

We showed Tricia Chaney a map showing the number of registered sex offenders within a five mile radius of where she was walking with her 13-month-old daughter near Largo Central Park.

"That is not comforting. Not at all," Chaney said.

Deputies have the same information, even more, and check on each person two to four times each year to make sure they are where they're supposed to be.

In the last 13 years, the number of sexual offenders in Pinellas County has tripled.

Detective Scott Summers with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says when he started there were only 600 offenders in the county.

Within the last five years, the number of sex offenders has gone up 21 percent.

He said there are a couple of reasons for the increase:

Once a person is a registered sexual offender, they're on the list for life.

Summers also says other counties have stricter restrictions on where offenders can live. Pinellas only enforces the state law.

"Many counties have an ordinance which is much stricter than the state law and it keeps them from living say, 2,500 feet from a church or a school or a daycare, whereas state law is 1000 feet," said Summers.

He says ensuring offenders have a place to live makes them easier to keep track of and less likely to offend.

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