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Texas towns warn sex offenders to lay low for Halloween

October 20, 2003

UBBOCK, Texas — Authorities in three West Texas counties have strict orders for sex offenders this Halloween: Go home, turn out your lights and don't answer your door.

On Friday, convicted sex offenders whose victims were children and who are on probation must be home by 6 p.m.

Officers in Lubbock, Potter and Tom Green counties will check on the 100 or so men and women throughout the night as part of Project Lights Out.

"It's good to know they are putting sex offenders on notice," said Margaret Crawford, who planned to take her 8-year-old son out to collect candy and treats. "I think that's a top priority for any parent."

Statewide, parole and probation authorities will increase their surveillance of sex offenders during the weekend, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Mike Viesca.

Similar initiatives are in place in other states, including New York, Virginia and California, where Operation Boo restricts parolees from having candy in their homes or putting up any Halloween decorations.

One 28-year-old sex offender, however, said he thinks Project Lights Out is an appropriate safeguard.

"There's no reason for kids to be going to our houses anyway," said John, who asked that his last name not be used.

In the years since he was placed on probation for indecency with a 15-year-old in Abilene, Texas, his routine on Halloween has been to be away from his home.

This year, he planned to tell his probation officer where he will be and officers will check on him at that location, said David Rowan, the supervisor of the sex offender unit in Lubbock.

"If we can protect one kid, 10 kids, it's certainly worth the small amount of time and effort that we are putting into this project," said Terry Easterling, the head of adult probation in Potter County. –Sapa-AP

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