Deputies see increase in sex offenders moving to Horry County

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Sex offenders moving to Horry County are keeping the Horry County Sheriff’s Office busy and authorities say many of those offenders are from out-of-state.

“It’s always busy,” said Deputy Andrew Cooper, a member of the Sex Offender Registry and Tracking Unit. “People are always moving their address. They move from one place to another, we get new people moving in; you can’t tell anymore.”

The Sex Offender Registry and Tracking Unit in Horry County consist of four, full-time deputies. Those deputies are responsible for keeping track of more than 500 active sex offenders in Horry County. Deputies must visit the homes sex offenders have on file to ensure the convicted offender still resides at the house and drives the same vehicle registered with the sheriff’s office.

“We’re constantly adding as the county grows,” said Sergeant Timmy Tyner about the increase of sex offenders in the area. “If they’re coming from out-of-state, they’re required to register and most the time they’re required to register here as well.”

South Carolina requires residential checks to be done on registered sex offenders once a year, but the Horry County Sheriff’s Office performs those checks at least twice a year. During the checks, Deputy Cooper verifies the offender is still living at the documented address and driving the same car.

“We go over the minimum standard the state requires because we feel that it makes the citizens comfortable,” states Sgt. Tyner.

In the past, deputies checked on a few dozen sex offenders a month, but now, there are some months where they check on more than 100.

One challenge the unit faces is when an offender lists a public address or “homeless” as their residence. One sex offender being monitored by the unit was arrested in Louisiana in 2007 for aggravated incest sexual motivation. The 29-year-old convict now lives in Myrtle Beach, but his registered address is the parking lot of the Walmart on Seaboard Street.

When an offender fails to register properly with the sheriff’s office, the deputies are responsible for tracking them down and ensuring the community is safe from previous sexual predators.

“I’ve got some that we’ve got warrants on them that’s either done violations, or we had to get warrants on them that we can go try to find those and lock them back up again,” explains Cooper.

When someone on the sex offender registry moves to Horry County, the unit does an evaluation of state equivalency to see if the elements of a crime in that state meet the elements of a crime in South Carolina.

Sgt. Tyner said sex offenders have to come to the sheriff’s office to register or re-register and there can be as many as 50 in one week. As more sexual criminals move to Horry County, the department wants to get more deputies in the unit to monitor the offenders and keep Horry County neighborhoods safe.

There is a 24/7 sex offender hotline if you would like to report a concern: 843-915-8573.

You can also find out if sex offenders are living near you or your children’s school by going on the Horry County Sheriff’s Office Offender Watch Website.