RALEIGH, N.C. — There are more sex offenders living in the Raleigh area than ever before. The number of registered sex offenders in Wake County has nearly doubled in just three years.
In December of 2003, 388 registered offenders lived in Wake County. Now, authorities said that 666 sex offenders are registered in the county.
"It's sad that there is no place that you can just sit in the house, watch your children play outside and know that they are safe, there is nothing like that any more," says Krystal Dyer, resident of the Trees and Leaves Apartment Complex in Raleigh.
Dyer told WRAL she keeps a close eye on her godchildren when they come over to play. But now she said she will keep an even closer watch on them after finding out who lives next door.
"It's kind of shocking because you don't know who you live by,” Dyer said. “Nowadays, people are not close to your neighbors."
According to the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry website, there are currently three registered sex offenders living in Dyer’s apartment complex. One lives right next door, the other across the walkway from her unit.
"I didn't even know, so now that I do know I will take more precaution," she said.
"It's very important that we track our sex offenders as best as possible," said Dean Baldwin, who compiles statistics on the number of sex offenders for the Wake County Sheriff's Office.
In just a portion of downtown Raleigh, there are more than 100 registered sex offenders. Officials said the numbers are connected to growth, better reporting of crimes and new sex offenses.
"One, of course, would be computer-related crimes. Peeping Tom can now also put you on the registry," Baldwin said.
The Wake County Sheriff's Office tracks offenders by randomly going to their homes to make sure they live where they say they live. Officials said their goal has been to visit registered offenders at least two times a year.
Also starting late last year, a new law took affect requiring registered sex offenders to check in with the sheriff's office in person twice a year.