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Police Lose Track of Sex Offenders in Chicago Area

This is one of our editors' picks from our ongoing roundup of Investigations Elsewhere.

In Chicago and its surrounding counties, sex offenders are flouting a law that requires them to register both their home and work addresses with local authorities – and getting away with it, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune found that as of mid-January, nearly 800 sex offenders had been missing for a month or more. But warrants had been issued for just 135 of them.

Police still search for missing offenders without warrants, but the Tribune calls those efforts "hit-and-miss." A lack of manpower and the limitations of working without a warrant hobble such efforts. For instance, Chicago police enter "investigative alerts" into their computer system, but those are rarely seen by other departments. In January, an eight-week sweep for offenders netted 40 arrests, but that level of effort is apparently rare.

Cara Smith of the Illinois attorney general’s office told the Tribune: "No one would disagree that a warrant for every offender would be terrific. It's just not that easy."

According to the report, authorities say that sometimes warrants aren’t issued "because the law isn't clear on who can issue them."

But, the Tribune counters, "even in cases where the law allows warrants to be issued, they often aren't."

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