by: Jeff Smith Updated:
CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. - Sheriff's deputies told Eyewitness News local sex offenders are figuring out ways to avoid being busted for not living where they're supposed to.
Eyewitness News discovered many local sex offenders don't normally live at their registered
addresses -- but stay there only around the holidays because they anticipate so-called "Address Verification Home Checks."
About 250 sex offenders are in Cabarrus County alone. Deputies said they're aware that Halloween week police will likely knock on their door.
"They just don't need to be in compliance that week. They need to be in compliance all 52 weeks," said Deputy Jason Thomas, who is the county's sex offender registration officer.
"So this is not just a Halloween issue?" asked Eyewitness News.
"No, this is an issue 365 days a year. All the time. Because they can screw up at any moment," he said.
It didn't take long for Thomas to make his presence felt during the ride-along.
On Avery Court, sex offender Donald Mecum wasn't
around -- but his neighbors were.
"I'm the sex offender registration officer. I'm just checking to make sure Mr. Mecum is still next door," Thomas said as he introduced himself to next door neighbor Bryan O'Neil.
O'Neil said moved into the house just last week, and hadn't met any neighbors yet. He appeared visually stunned by the news.
"Is he dangerous?" O'Neil asked.
"Well, he's a recidivist. Which means he's offended before," Deputy Thomas answered.
Donald Mecum was convicted 11 years ago of multiple counts of indecent liberties with a 15-year-old. He was convicted four years ago of sexual battery on a 17-year-old.
"Anytime you're going to have kids around the neighborhood and stuff you should always be checking on these guys," O'Neil told Eyewitness News.
"So yeah, I'm really glad to see them out here, doing these door knocks," he added.
Sex offenders who were home seemed surprised by the home visits.
"I'm just basically doing a random check, making sure everyone's where they're supposed to be," Thomas told several registered sex offenders who answered the door.
If no one answered, he left a red notice on the door. If it's still there when he comes back, it tells him that the sex offender isn't living there and is breaking the law.
Cabarrus County deputies encourage residents to download the free Sex Offender Registry app for smartphones that was released earlier this year by the state Department of Justice. It helps people easily identify registered offenders in their neighborhood.