Sex Offenders Could Be Among Hurricane Evacuees In Indiana

Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees are now living in Indianapolis, and some plan to stay.

While most are welcome here, there is a small group that may not be wanted.

According to Louisiana State Police, there were nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders living in the 14 parishes hit by Katrina.

Many are now living in shelters. Some could be in Indiana now, RTV6's Tanya Spencer reported.

"There are those out there who will commit future acts, who are serial offenders, and we need to keep track of those," Indianapolis police Lt. Don Bender said.

Law enforcement officials face a problem with identifying and tracking sex offenders who may have fled the hurricane.

While the local Red Cross does confirm evacuees' identities, and that they are from the affected areas, they do not do background checks. Neither does the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Local officials are now tasked with trying to determine if any sex offenders came to Indiana, and if so, how to keep track of them.

Because of the chaos that ensued after the hurricane hit shore, officials don't know where sex offenders are now.

According to Indiana law, sex offenders must register with local law enforcement, "not more than seven days after arriving in the jurisdiction where the offender intends to live, work, or study."

But since these evacuees technically haven't moved here, some offenders may think the law doesn't apply to them, or don't want to let officials know where they are.

With criminal records lost in some cases, and with criminals not always honest, police want everyone to be careful -- even when they just want to help.

"Whether these are evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, or whether they are life-long residents of the state of Indiana, use the standard precautions," Bender said.

Shelters and individuals are encouraged to check evacuees' names against the Louisiana sex offender registry.

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