Cook County to check on sex offenders by air

October 30, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The officers will be conducting random checks all day. Registered sex offenders will also be required to check in with detectives. Akthe first time, sheriff's police are taking video and still pictures of the offenders entire property

Famlies like the Kanes are checking out their costumes on Sunday -- the day before Halloween. The Mount Greenwood family is ready for trick-or-treating, and to keep it safe. They never venture too far from home.

"We stick to the neighborhood, we're pretty well aware of everyone in the neighborhood. We don't go outside of our element," Holly Kane said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says that is a wise thing to do. Dart says Halloween can be perfect type of scenario for sex offenders to re-offend.

"What better time for them to try to do their evil deeds than on a day when children, sometimes unsupervised, are coming by at all hours, sometimes at night, and they're knocking on your door?" Dart said.

Dart is using Halloween as a day to keep track of the registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County under a relatively new state law that allows police departments to check on offenders four times a year.

Dart says offenders must check into county offices Monday, and this year, he is taking it one step further by checking offenders' entire property by foot and by air; it's the first time sheriff's police are taking video and still pictures of offenders' entire property.

"So we now have aerial photographs to see if there's anything we find that could be somewhat of a red flag," Dart said. "We just don't want to leave any stoned unturned. We try to learn from other peoples' tragedies and mistakes."

Learning from the Jaycee Dugard case is what dart is trying to do. Dugard was the California girl who was kidnapped and sexually abused for years while living unnoticed in her captors' backyard.

So while the Kane family is looking forward to a fun evening Monday, safety is always on the parents' minds.

"Always has to be in the back of your mind that there is someone out there. You just have to make sure you know where your kids are at," Christopher Kane said.

In all, Dart says his department has over 75 sex offenders to keep track of . So far, the video surveillance has not produced any red flags about the registered offenders' properties.

While police will be conducting random checks, Dart says there are many common sense tip parents can follow to make sure trick-of-treating is safe, such as making sure children do not enter anyone's home and going to homes in your neighborhood.

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