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Sex offenders disappear in wake of Sandy

NBC New York

U.S. Marshals search for a sex offender who is believed to have fled in the wake of Sandy.

NEW YORK -- Among the hundreds of people displaced from their homes after Sandy are sex offenders required to register with the government, and U.S. marshals are trying to find the ones who have disappeared.

Officials say the majority of displaced sex offenders have followed the rules and registered their new addresses. But some have not.

"It's critical because the people in the community are simply unaware that this individual is in their midst," Charlie Dunne, U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of New York, told NBC 4 New York.

Dunne said marshals work with state and local law enforcement to track down sex offenders after a natural disaster.

In the tri-state, marshals say dozens of sex offenders who changed addresses have had legitimate reasons for moving.

"Their houses had been damaged or they had gone into homeless shelters or hotels so obviously we're not going to prosecute those people," said Dunne.

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But there are some who are believed to be on the run after the hurricane.

For example, in Suffolk County, officials have examined 500 registered sex offenders in areas that could have been affected by the storm. Some 450 of them were living where they were supposed to be, leaving 50 that needed to be tracked further. Of those, 40 had relocated for reasons that checked out and five were picked up by the marshals, leaving about five that still hadn't been found, officials said.

"We're looking to prosecute the people that are taking advantage of the situation to proactively abscond thinking we won't be looking for them because we're too busy," Dunne said.

And for decades, the marshals have always been able to find people.

"You might as well be in compliance because we're gonna find you. We're gonna continue to look for you," Dunne said.

NBCNewYork.com

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Full coverage of Sandy's aftermath from NBC News