North Carolina State Fair

Ride operators on alert after sex offender caught at fair

Posted October 21, 2015

Tyrone Szabo, of 1505 Pocomoke Road, Franklinton, is charged with sex offender on child premises and impersonating a public officer. He was in the Wake County jail Wednesday under a $250,000 bond.

Editor's Note: Police originally reported that Tyrone Szabo was from Raleigh. That information was out of date. His address is on Pocomoke Road in Franklinton.

The North Carolina Department of Labor sent an alert Wednesday through Powers Great American Amusement to all ride operators at the State Fair asking them to be on the lookout for impostor ride inspectors after a convicted sex offender was found to be posing as an inspector the day before.

Tyrone Szabo, 64, of 1505 Pocomoke Road in Franklinton, was dressed in work-style clothes with black boots when he was arrested, and he was also carrying a flashlight and pepper spray, officials said.

NCDOL said all official inspectors will have a patch on their clothing and will carry credentials to verify their identity.

Alert parents spotted Szabo in the kiddie ride area of the fair Tuesday and alerted law enforcement officers.

Brian Long, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture which runs the fair, said their awareness was a good sign.

Szabo was in the Wake County jail Wednesday under a $250,000 bond. He was convicted in 2006 of six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in Granville County.


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  • George Herbert Oct 21, 2015
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    I don't think he was a worker at the fair, just pretending to be one of the ride inspectors.

    As for screening, I saw the temporary employees undergoing drug testing last week before the fair opened. I have no idea how thorough a background check they do for them, but it seems obvious to me that they wouldn't want to hire someone who's been convicted of a sex offense against a minor.

  • Marcy Lyn Oct 21, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Regardless of security/background checks, always yield on the side of caution. Predator's of all types are out there thinking of ways to get around security.

    After years in security, including a stint as a FED, I watch everything... I don't automatically trust all is clear. Skeptical maybe ... but safe for sure !

  • Malakai Bluebone Oct 21, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    I heard on a radio station news minute that someone reported him as acting "suspicious". Not sure what that entailed but apparently another fair goer pointed him out to police.

  • Mark Cline Oct 21, 2015
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    Safest place in North Carolina ;)

  • Ileana Bryan Oct 21, 2015
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    It would be interesting to know HOW they knew of him (did someone suspect something? did they recognize his face?).
    Also, with the fair employing many for such a short period of time, how are we sure a comprehensive check is done on the workers, if any?