Gulfport is home to six sexual predators and 15 sexual offenders who live throughout the city. Those were the facts presented at this month’s Crime Watch meeting at the Gulfport Neighborhood Center.
“That’s kind of a lot for a small town,” said Detective Hanh Pham of the Gulfport Police Department.
According to Florida statues, a sexual offender is someone who is convicted of a sex offense against a minor and has since been released from probation or incarceration. Offenses such as child pornography, sexual performance by a child under 18, or procuring a person under 18 for purposes of prostitution, are all grounds for becoming a sex offender.
A sexual predator is someone convicted of a first-degree felony sex crime, or two second-degree felony sex crimes. These crimes do not necessarily involve a minor.
Detective Pham also stated that Gulfport is the only city in Pinellas County that does monthly at-home checks on the sexual offenders and predators. The monthly checks are unannounced and make sure that the offender is properly registered and still lives at the registered address.
Detective Pham asks if anyone knows of a sexual offender who is not properly registered to report him or her to the police. However, offenders are not considered violent and should be treated like regular citizens, said Pham.
“They are human beings. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.”
Officer Zack Mills took the floor after Detective Pham’s presentation and spoke about some of the crimes that took place in June around Gulfport.
The most common crime in June was vehicle burglary.
“There were 14 vehicle burglaries in June,” Officer Mills said. “About 90 percent of the cars were left unlocked.”
The Gulfport Police Department would like to remind its citizens to lock their car doors.
Officer Mills’ report also shows that crime has decreased in the past months, with mail thefts and bicycle thefts both drastically decreasing.
Gulfport Crime Watch meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month.