Illinois officials are struggling to catch sex offenders who don’t register their addresses. Despite increased police efforts to find them, a Chicago Tribune review of law enforcement and court records found that nearly 800 Chicago-area sex offenders had been missing for at least a month. Authorities failed to get arrest warrants for more than 80 percent of them. For those with prior convictions, 90 percent lacked warrants.
Police hunting efforts are hit-and-miss, at times not making easy checks to see whether an offender is dead or in jail. One “missing” offender had been dead since 2001. The failures help unregistered offenders remain underground and unpunished. Without aggressive police pursuit, an offender might come into contact with police only during a routine stop, such as for speeding. An officer making the stop might not arrest an offender if there’s no warrant for him. The results anger the mother of a 14-year-old, who wonders why authorities didn’t do more to catch an offender before they found him with her teenage daughter. “They are predators, and they lurk. They don’t have a sign on them that says, ‘I’m a pedophile,’ ” said the mother. “I don’t know why (police) don’t keep better tabs on them.”