Are sex offenders living where you shop? Some use shopping centers as addresses

Most people know how to search their home address online to see if any sex offenders are living in their area, but checking a local shopping center -- that option often goes under the radar.

More than a dozen sex offenders considered  homeless or transient in South Florida use local stores such  Walmart as their registered address.

And here's the thing, it's totally legal.

When Rachel Pirana recently came with her son to a Walmart on Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale -- she had no idea five registered sex offenders use the intersection in front of the store as their listed address.

There were similar trend in other neighborhoods.

"That should be illegal," Pirana said.

More than a dozen transient sex offenders and sexual predators use local stores or the intersections near them as their registered address.

Local 10 News found a sex offender lists the Walmart in Hallandale Beach as his address, a sexual predator who lists the Salvation Army on Broward Boulevard as his residence and in Lauderdale Lakes another offender puts the area near Walgreens, next door to a Walmart.

 "That's really scary. That's alarming," Jillian Lenkowitz, a shopper said.

Local 10 News showed shoppers the three registered sex offenders who use the corner by their Walmart on State Road 7 and Hollywood Boulevard as their address.

"So anybody could just put any address and live wherever they want," Lenkowitz said.

Captain Ed Sileo, with Broward Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division said there are no law against being homeless so in reality they're allowed to put down almost anything.

He said offenders and predators are required to register an address with the county courthouse--or in the case of transient sex offenders, the closest landmark.

And yes, there is there a concern that they could have another residence and they're just using this as a false address.

"They do from time to time," Sileo said. "We will do those follow up investigations to find out if that's accurate."

Sileo said  most offenders have cellphones and comply with  deputies, who check in on them two to three times a month.

"To my knowledge we have never had an incident where a transient sex offender has ever committed a crime at any of these locations," Sileo said.

Local 10 News asked Walmart to weigh in on the issue and in a statement Charles Crowson, a senior manager for corporate communications said:  "It's disturbing to know convicted felons are listing our store as their residential address. We condemn such a practice and must refer any other questions to law enforcement."

If a sex offender does want to move on to another location they have just 48 hours to notify BSO of their new location and if they fail to do that BSO said authorities will issue a warrant for their arrest.

BSO said changing the registration process to prevent transient offenders from using local businesses as their address would require action from state lawmakers.

Meanwhile, shoppers said they will be looking over their shoulders from now on.

 "I don't think that's right because you've got children here, you've got women alone, you've got elderly people," Jessie Miller said. 

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.

This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.