CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-- Sex offenders have been known to lure children in with offers of candy. But on Halloween, children may unknowingly be walking right up to the doors of sex offenders, asking for that candy.
While some states have laws restricting sex offender activity on Halloween, others do not. In Missouri for example, sex offenders must be at home between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. All their outside lights must also be off. Finally, they have to post a sign saying "No candy or treats at this residence".
In California, the Department of Corrections and Rehab, doesn't require signs but sex offenders can't open their door to trick or treaters. They also conduct what's known as 'Operation Boo' in which they knock on sex offenders doors and make sure they are following the rules.
Iowa has no state law restricting a sex offenders actions on Halloween. However, the Department of Corrections does have restrictions for sex offenders who are on probation. They are not allowed to take children trick or treating and can't open their door to trick or treaters. There is also a curfew in place. Enforcement of that is up to parole officers. Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner says if there were a state law, making sure everyone was following the rules would be a strain on law enforcement.
"The enforcement is a bigger concern for us. With 322 people that are required to be registered through the sheriff, that's a lot of people for us to keep a lookout for on one evening," said Sheriff Gardner.
Instead, Sheriff Gardner encourages parents to go online to the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. You can plug in your address and see where all the sex offenders in the area live, so you know which houses to avoid while trick or treating.
The sheriff has more safety tips to keep in mind while you are out on Halloween. He says parents should always accompany their children when trick or treating. If you have older kids that want to go alone, make sure you know their route and have them check in at a set time. Also, carry a flashlight and have reflective tape on kid's costumes. Drivers, make sure you drive slowly and carefully in residential areas.