A Seattle Times investigation has found that sex offenders are increasingly registering as homeless, which frustrates law enforcement efforts to track and publicize their location to potential victims. In Washington, hundreds of sex offenders register as homeless – making their whereabouts unknown. In King County, the number of offenders who say they are homeless has nearly tripled in the past five years to 364, a Seattle Times investigation has found.
Law-enforcement officials have no way of tracking them, and residents are often unaware of potential threats. Authorities say that out of every 10 sex offenders who report they are homeless, two or three are actually living in a neighborhood at a particular address. Even more alarming, many of these offenders are deemed the most dangerous, what the state defines as Level 3. In King County, one-third of the high-risk sex felons say they are homeless. That means there are 111 high-risk sex felons who could be living on the streets or next door. Homeless offenders are required to sign in weekly at the sheriff’s office. But most don’t, which is a felony. Seventy-five percent of King County’s homeless sex offenders didn’t sign in weekly in October, a Seattle Times analysis has found. More than half of Seattle’s 140 homeless sex offenders, as of last month, had arrest warrants for failing to sign in. Police say they are overwhelmed with other duties and have no easy way to find and arrest the offenders. Some have been missing for as long as five years.