Created: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 10:05:00 EST
Updated: Tue, 29 Apr 2014 11:06:28 EST
More than 1,700 registered sex offenders live in Middle Georgia with more than 500 living in Bibb and Houston counties alone. While law enforcement does its best to keep track of the sexual convicts … sometimes they drop off the map.
Central State Prison in West Bibb County is one of five sexual offender release sites in the state, and it's the reason why investigators with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office say there's such a high rate of sexual offenders and absconders in the area.
Bibb County Sheriff's Sex Offender Investigator Frank Sagnibene has been tracking people for 21 years.
With 268 registered sex offenders living in Bibb County, Sagnibene says he employs various tactics to make sure they all stay on track.
The more serious the offense, the more advanced techniques are used for tracking, with the most dangerous offenders are required to wear ankle monitors that send out signals every ten minutes.
"We use a service that tracks them wherever they are and through triangulation of cell phone towers and satellites, these people can be tracked anywhere that they go," Sagnibene said.
Sagnibene also hits the street to track offenders, talking to neighbors, employers, and the sex offenders themselves to make sure they're living where they say they are. But sometimes the offenders aren't where they are supposed to be.
"Stressors come up such as substance abuse, or either they're coming in contact with children and they know they can't be around them, they know that somebody knows it, so they run because they don't want to be caught," Sagnibene said.
At any one time the sheriff's office says there are around eight sexual offenders who are on the run from Macon Bibb. Two of three offenders abscond annually while two or three absconders are caught.
The GBI reports the statewide number remains fairly constant at around 465 absconders. But the sheriff's office says absconders rarely live off the grid for long and face up to 30 years in prison when they're caught.
"Most of them are probably looking over their shoulder, they're living from pillar to post as you might say with whoever they can stay with because they don't want to locate at one particular address, some may relocate out of the area," Sagnibene said.
Even if absconders go to a different state they still face scrutiny. All offenders are listed in a national registry. And while the thought of registered sex offenders disappearing from the map seems dangerous, Sagnibene says during his time there haven't been any serious incidents, at least incidents brought to the attention of law enforcement.
"We haven't had anybody that's on absconder status that immediately goes that does something that we know of to another child, but the potential has to always be there if you look at their history," Sagnibene says. "Always be aware of your children and who they are around, that's very important no matter who you are or what level of society you come from."
The GBI reports there are more than 24,500 registered sex offenders in the state and at any one time nearly two percent of offenders are listed as unregistered.
You can find a list of sex offenders and where they live by using the GBI website or your local sheriff's office website. Bibb deputies say you can also call them if you have any concerns.