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How to Know if Your Kid is Trick or Treating at a Sex Offenders - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

How to Know if Your Kid is Trick or Treating at a Sex Offenders House

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Halloween is just around the corner, but you may not be comfortable with your kids stopping at just any house. In every state registered sex offenders have different rules about what they can and cannot do on Halloween.

Some states go so far as to prevent offenders from dressing up in costumes, handing out candy, or posting signs in their yards that say they're a sex offender. Valley News team's Eric Crest has some information that might surprise you about Minnesota and North Dakota laws.

Halloween is supposed to send a chill or two down your spine, but when your talking about kids and their safety it is the last thing you want.

"I would be weary as a parent letting my children go to a high risk sex offenders residence or perhaps even a moderate (offender)," says Sgt. Gail Wishmann of the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

In Cass County, there are 291 registered sex offenders, and on the Minnesota side in Clay County there are 140.

So, how do law enforcement make sure these individuals aren't violating their parole on a night filled with kids who are knocking on strangers doors? In North Dakota and Minnesota the answer is: Little.

"There is absolutely nothing that we do different. We know who our sex offenders are. We know who our high risk and low risk are," explains Sgt. Wishmann.

Law enforcement won't stake out a sex offenders house on Halloween in either Minnesota or North Dakota. Instead, police say you need to know who is in your neighborhood.

"All you gotta do is call your local law enforcement they should be able to fill you in," at least in North Dakota according to Sgt. Wishmann.

North Dakota's sex offender website will actually break it all down: Where they live, their risk level, and when their parole is up.

"It is up to the family, the parents, the guardians, to know who lives in your neighborhood to know who your sex offender is," Sgt. Wishmann says.

But finding out where all sex offenders live isn't so easy especially in Minnesota.

"Not all of the 100 and some we have are going to be on that website. There are probably less than five," says Lt. Stephen Landsem of the Clay County Sheriff's office.

In Minnesota less sex offender information is made public. Only the most violent repeat offenders will make the list.

"It all goes down to the data privacy on what the state has deemed what can be released, and a lot of states are more lax than Minnesota on what can be released," Lt. Landsem.

So as you prepare for your kids' big night of trick or treating, just know you can't rely on law enforcement for everything.

"Be a parent and be with your child when they're out trick or treating. Go with them especially when they are going to neighbors or strangers houses. Be there with your kids," says Lt. Landsem.

If you want to see the full list of registered sex offenders in North Dakota, and the much smaller list of offenders that are made public in Minnesota, we've included links to the websites below.

Minnesota sex offender search- https://por.state.mn.us/listoffenders.aspx

North Dakota sex offender search- http://www.sexoffender.nd.gov/offenderweb/search/publiclist

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