As kids across East Tennessee get ready for Halloween, there are some steps parents can take to make sure the homes they are going to are safe.

With the help of your phone, sex offender registries are available right at your fingertips. Dozens of apps and websites make easy for you to keep an eye on your neighborhood.

"Sex offenders, they do live in our communities. They're not all in a prison," James Paschke, a probation and parole officer with the Tennessee Department of Correction, said.

Up until Nov. 1, TDOC officers are going door-to-door to make sure sex offenders are following state guidelines. It’s called Operation Blackout.

Offenders can't have Halloween decorations out, can't keep their porch lights on and have to be in their homes on Halloween from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the following day.

While there are rules in place for sex offenders, officials said there are additional steps parents can take to ensure their children’s safety on Halloween.

"When someone is a sex offender, they have to register with the state and that data is made publicly available," Director of Research for Savage Security Adrian Sanabria said.

Several websites and phone apps allow you to track where offenders live.

Sanabria recommends FamilyWatchDog.com. The site doesn’t just tell you where sex offenders live, it also tells you what their offense was.


Other popular, and free, apps include Sex Offender Search, Offender Locator and Radaris Sex Offenders.

When you're looking for a good app, Sanabria said to check the ratings, take a look at users reviews and make sure you know where the information is coming from.

"You want to make sure that data is up-to-date. If it's a year old that's not as useful for you," Paschke said. "I urge everyone ... parents, families, community organizations to use those tools to your advantage and know what sex offenders are in your area."

Sanabria also urges parents to map out their kids route before Halloween night.

"Just take a few minutes to plan out ahead of time,” Paschke said, “Look at the route your kids are planning on taking and if there's any issues with that, make some changes."