How well do you know your neighbors? Not just the people who live right next door, but the house on the corner where your child waits for the school bus, the tenants below you, or that retired couple who just moved in. Laws like Megan’s Law require that convicted sex offenders register their names and addresses with a national database and that this information be made available to the public. There are a number of websites and apps that allow you to check if any registered sex offenders live or work near you. You may be shocked by what you find—I know I was. I live across the street from an elementary school and a middle school, so I assumed my area would come up clean. However, a quick search of my ZIP code revealed 217 registered offenders located within a couple of miles of my home!
Here, we’ll tell you about a few helpful resources that can help you stay aware and answer the question, “Are there sex offenders near me”?
Family Watchdog is a free resource that allows you to search by name or location to find registered offenders. When you search an address or ZIP code on the website, a color-coded map will come up. Each colored square on the map represents the known address of a registered sex offender. You simply click on a square to see the offender’s name, photos, place of employment or school, a list of convictions, and any other known information.
This information can help you know which neighborhoods, homes, or businesses to avoid so you can make a more informed decision when considering moving to a new area.
Family Watchdog also allows you to sign up for email notifications to get alerts when an offender moves into your neighborhood. You can also have notifications set up for the places you and your family frequent, such as a school, library, park, church, family member’s house, or daycare center. If you’re concerned about a specific person, you can search by name and Family Watchdog will notify you of any convictions as well as the individual’s current address and address changes.
The information on Family Watchdog and similar sites comes from the National Sex Offender Registry, state and federal government public records, and information that sex offenders are required by law to report to officials. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure this information is 100% accurate all the time. If you are aware of missing or inaccurate information—for example, if you know for a fact that an offender has moved—you can report this information to the police or directly to the website.
Family Watchdog isn’t the only site to offer this service. Users can visit the The Department of Justice National Sex Offender List to search for offenders nearby.
The paid identity theft services below offer automatic notifications if a sex offender moves into your neighborhood. Below is a list of other resources you can use to search names and locations or to sign up for email notifications.
Rapid Protect app
Yes, there’s an app for that. The Rapid Protect app (previously called POM Offender Locator) is available for both iOS and Android. This app will identify the known locations of registered sex offenders within the US. The app is free, but there is a yearly subscription option for $90 that unlocks additional features including advanced GPS tracking for families (set geo-fence and geo-points to get alerts if the person travels outside those points), weather alerts, panic button (send alerts to your designated emergency contacts), person-to-person family notes, and photo-based checks-ins.