Sexual offenses – particularly those against children – are among the most reprehensible of crimes. Two techniques that sex offenders use to escape detection from the law are manipulating their ID and residing at addresses other than those reported to authorities, a nationwide study found.
Donald Rebovich, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice and executive director of the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP) at Utica College, conducted the study, “Hiding in Plain Sight? A Nationwide Study of the Use of Identity Manipulation by Registered Sex Offenders.” Rebovich worked in conjunction with researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and ID Analytics, to study how sex offenders avoid registration/tracking under sex offender reporting/tracking systems. The data, which came from the National Sex Offender Registry maintained through the FBI and included cases from all 50 states, was analyzed to determine how often sex offenders manipulated their ID to escape detection, as well as the methods they used to do so.
Findings indicated that several of the most frequently used methods to avoid tracking included using multiple aliases, using various identifying information such as social security numbers and date of birth, stealing identifying information from family members, manipulating their names, using the address of family members or friends, altering their physical appearance, or moving to another state with less stringent laws.
“While the frequency of ID manipulation by sex offenders was lower than initially expected, it is still a matter of grave concern,” said Rebovich. “Given the sheer volume of registered sex offenders throughout the U.S., it is likely that tens of thousands of sex offenders are flying under the radar by employing simple methods to avoid effective tracking.”
The management and control of known sex offenders has become a national, state and local priority, Rebovich said.