Authorities have no idea where most of the 4,500 registered sex offenders who fled Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina ended up, says the Arizona Republic. The federal government may know some names, but it can’t release them because of privacy laws. At least five offenders have turned up in Arizona, found by a private company that does background checks for businesses. Arizona has historically had a difficult time keeping track of offenders. The state Department of Public Safety has found about 25 percent of the 1,000 missing Arizona sex offenders it identified in June, part of a push to better track offender whereabouts.
The state has succeeded in whittling the number unaccounted for to 763. The five Katrina offenders were located by a company called Verified Person, a New York-based background screening service that is offering a free Katrina sex offender search to law enforcement. Tracking sex offenders is the responsibility of each offender’s home state. When they move, the home state is supposed to notify the new jurisdiction. Because of the chaos surrounding the hurricane, that did not happen. Verified Person found the five individuals in Arizona by tracking personal information when they opened bank accounts or set up utilities, then cross-referenced the dates and patterns of that information with their centralized nationwide database of sex offenders. “Most of the information gets indexed back to a social security number,” said Tal Moise, Verified Person CEO. Moise said the service can legally only share names with law enforcement.