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Sex Offenders on Your Block? There's an App for That


North Carolina is among the few states now offering its own mobile software for people to locate nearly 14,000 registered sex offenders across the state. We use our phones to track the movements of our friends and deals at our favorite restaurants, so really it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an app to tell you how many sex offenders live within a one-mile radius of your current location. The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry mobile app works on iPhones and iPads. The chief information officer for the North Carolina Department of Justice - Scott Glawson - says he developed the app in his free time. Attorney General Roy Cooper says people expect to have access to information on their mobile devices these days. "If you're concerned about the safety of your children, if you let them go and run around the neighborhood, you should be aware that there's a sex offender who has molested children who may live on the same block," says Cooper. Cooper notes that many sexual offenses against children are perpetrated by friends and family, rather than strangers, but he says the mobile app is "one more weapon" to protect your kids. While the idea of checking your phone for registered sex offenders in every neighborhood you visit may seem a little over-the-top, it's a concept that resonates with mothers like Katie Barnes Harding. She has two small children and blogs at CharlotteMomFavorites.com. "I've often wondered if I'm at a safe location with my friends and my kids when they're on play dates and such," says Harding "I think (the app) would be a really helpful tool if I was looking at buying a house. It's something I could use to make sure it would be a safe neighborhood for my family." Harding also admits it could be easy to get paranoid with the information always at her fingertips, but says she'd rather be safe than sorry. Jennifer Bullock from TheCharlotteMoms.com blog says the photos and criminal history of offenders are helpful, but she wishes the app offered an explanation of legal terms in the registry so she had better sense of the nature of an offender's crime. The free North Carolina sex offender registry app is now on iTunes. The Attorney General's office hopes to develop a version for Droid devices in the future.