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Pinpoint unsavory elements in your neighborhood with the Criminal Tracker app

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April 12, 2012

U.S. Publications Inc has released an app for iOS devices called Criminal Tracker, which t...

U.S. Publications Inc has released an app for iOS devices called Criminal Tracker, which tracks and identifies the location of criminals such as sex offenders within a 40 mile radius of a given area

U.S. Publications Inc says that a study by the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed that sex offenders are four times more likely to re-offend than other convicted criminals, and that 60% of convicted sex offenders are out on parole or probation. Playing on the fear that there could well be just such a person living secretly in your neighborhood, the company has announced a new app that's said to be capable of pointing out the location of such undesirables within a 40 mile (64 km) radius of a given area. The Criminal Tracker app doesn't limit its results to sex offenders, however, as the company's database is claimed to be the most comprehensive National Criminal Index available.

The Criminal Tracker app is currently only available for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch users. Once downloaded onto the iDevice, a user would enter a zip code and mile range. The app then presents a map with pushpins showing the locations of convicted criminals in the chosen area, along with name and address details. The first three searches are free, after which users can top up available look-ups from US$0.99. The technology is supported by online offender search portal PublicData.com, which also powers the site CriminalCheck.com.

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have been required to record information on the whereabouts of sex offenders since the mid 1990s under regulations known as Megan's Law. Information from the register is already freely available to the public courtesy of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website from the Department of Justice.

The Criminal Tracker app is said to expand the neighborhood search beyond the provision of location data on sex offenders only – it's also claimed to offer intelligence on other undesirables in the search radius, that we might want to know about. U.S. Publications Inc states that the company works closely with law enforcement to ensure that its offender database is kept up to date, although there doesn't appear to be any independent information available to verify accuracy.

Source: Criminal Tracker

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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19 Comments

I am concerned that this application, while being presented with good intentions, means a map to the doorstep of people already likely to be targets for revenge. Online postings of Sex Offender registries have been implicated in several cases of attacks. A recent application called "Girls Near Me" was removed from the app store after people pointed out that it could easily be used to provide all the information necessary for stalking an unsuspecting stranger. My concern is that without any verification from law enforcement and the simplicity of tracking someone that can be easily targeted by someone with strong opinions about the subject of their actions, that this provides a very significant potential for misuse.

Michael Martell
12th April, 2012 @ 01:01 pm PDT

Hmmm I like the "we are better than you" approach to vigilantisim.

70% of shop lifting is done by married white women in their mid 30's - they are sneak thiefs - 90% who reoffend regularly.

No app for that.

Mr Stiffy
12th April, 2012 @ 03:23 pm PDT

This app seems a little creepy. It also seems a little unfair and unnecessary. I doubt for example that it differentiates between serial child rapists and the drunk guy caught pissing behind the bushes in the park on his way home from the pub. I can only imagine this sort of app causing undue alarm and distress. Perhaps we need an app that pinpoints serial liars who claim to have never done anything wrong and who have never hurt another person or stolen anything ever. I think that database would be much smaller and faster to query. start casting your stones all you sin free people.

Scion
12th April, 2012 @ 06:16 pm PDT

Oh great, an app to promote criminal activity, vigilantism.

Paul Smith
12th April, 2012 @ 07:40 pm PDT

Fantastic! Now fast forward to a big brother future where all your neighbors come over with pitch forks and torches cos you took out your gps tracking id implant, or they send darpas new terminator droids to correct your malfunction. I closed my fb account for exactly this kinda reason cos it basically says that even if you did something wrong you will always be a criminal. There are better solutions than fear

MasterG
13th April, 2012 @ 05:07 am PDT

This app is terrible and feeds into the paranoia about Sex Offenders. In the US they tried to use the Sex Offender laws to stop teenage pregnancy. They labeled high school teenage couples sex offenders and even after the state laws changed (because it didn't work) the US Federal system will not take them off the list for life.

There are 1000's of high school couples in every US state that got pregnant, got married and 10 years later and 3 kids later Daddy (and Mommy) is a Registered Sex Offender and the kids and their school mates are told this by their school teachers.

The real pedophiles are laughing at all of us.

RAMLOT
13th April, 2012 @ 09:18 am PDT

This is not new. It has been available in several guises for years. There are app which even text you if you are within a set radius from the offenders address. The problem (beyond that of vigilantism and lumping two teenagers who had sex in with pederasts) is the solutions are unworkable. Because of the laxity in definition of what a sex offender is, they are everywhere. My neighborhood, Urban and Rich, has at least a dozen within a square mile. Any automated notification system become a major nuisance and data hog.

rik.warren
13th April, 2012 @ 09:35 am PDT

This bad idea will simply and rapidly enable more pinheads like Zimmerman in Florida to stalk and confront anyone they imagine to be a threat. This App might as well have an additional button to speed apply for NRA membership. May be it could have advertising links to ammo & gun toy makers to generate some revenue.

StWils
13th April, 2012 @ 11:31 am PDT

May God almighty free america from the fearmongers and may she once again be the land of the free AMEN. This is just another control through fear device. Be hyper vigilant, be extra cautious be AFRAID cos everywhere you look, every move you make theres something to be afraid of. Sorry cant get take out tonight honey cos theres sex offenders EVERYWHERE.

MasterG
13th April, 2012 @ 02:07 pm PDT

What's the use of an application like this? We rub elbows with criminals every day, unwittingly invite them into our homes to perform services, and work alongside them. When arrested and convicted, the so called justice system just slaps their wrists and sends them back out amongst us. So what if I find out that a sex offender, or other convicted felon lives next door? How is that going to help me?

Facebook User
13th April, 2012 @ 10:11 pm PDT

The article refers to a massive US Justice Department study of offender recidivism from 15 states. It showed that 5.3 percent of parolees who had committed a sex crime went on to commit a new one in the first three years on the street. It also said a convicted sex offender was four times as likely to commit a new sex crime as other kinds of criminals. But the latter group, which did not appear on the public registry, did far more sex crimes because they vastly outnumber the registered statutory rapists, public urinators, date rapists, serial violent adult rapists, teen-on-child molesters, teen sexting, male prostitutes and fixated pedophiles coming out of prison. For all crimes, sex offenders had the lowest rate of return to prison except for murderers. The truth is far harder to demagogue than the lies in an article like this. But the authors stand to market a cool product if they can get everybody scared enough. Please deny them their profits.

Chris Dornin, founder, Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, www.ccjrnh.org

christopher Dornin
14th April, 2012 @ 09:08 am PDT

as a former Los Angeles Police Officer, I have been frustrated to see the large number of sex offenders released early, and placed into our neighborhoods. This upsets me as much as I am sure it upsets the rest of us here. However, it seems to me we could be going about it in a different manner. In other words, focusing all the money on projects like this, instead of the real issue. That they should be behind bars.

From my experience, and I have seen allot, the behavior of these individuals will not change, and I applaud the efforts to keep people informed. But let me explain how the criminal justice department thinks. A sex offender is released for numerous reasons, over-crowding, or the feeling from the Parole board that this individual is rehabilitated, and poses no harm to society. That is BS. They wont or cant change, and I dont want to go down the road that they were "born" like that. I believe we need to reevaluate the system of crime and punishment. One ridicules example would be the definition of a "sex offender." Are the majority of people aware that on paper, without a thorough investigation, a 19 year old college kid, intoxicated and arrested for urinating on an alley wall, is stigmatized forever, possibly for very poor judgement, and is booked for for 647pc (lewd conduct), which is the same penal code violation used for booking the worst child rapist. I am not defending the college student, but are we dealing with the same individual, who pop's up on a sex offender list? I think not.

We need to lobby of politicians to write serious legislature to make sure the true sex offender never goes free, because as it stands, the people on your list have paid their debt to society, and deserve to live in peace, according to the laws of that State, that is insanity.

I would never defend a sex offender, but as it stands now, people can make an argument that the people on your list have served their sentence, and deserve to live in peace. It does scare me, because they can make a good argument based on current laws, and many get rich, because now their rights have been violated, I have seen that as well.

We need serious changes to legislation, and off the top of my head, I could just mention the way we have gone about the war on drugs. Look at the stats and see for yourself if there is not a better way. Do I want people to be a able to walk into a drug store and buy their drug of choice of the shelf, no. Trust the possibility that I know how much money is poured into law enforcement. Money for cool gadgets and logo'd t-shirts, unlimited overtime, and cities making a fortune of of what I see as illegal "asset forfeiture." There is no over-site, and the drugs still come pouring into our country at rates never seen before.

It is time to become A-holes, and lock up child rapist for the rest of their lives. I like what the article spelled out, good work. But as many have stated, "they have to live somewhere." They will be our neighbors, and what does it reveal about ourselves, and society, that our only recourse is to complain?

Steve Vallance
15th April, 2012 @ 05:03 pm PDT

one last thing, and I apologize for not having read the previous posts before writing what is apparently know by most of us rational citizens. I am glad there are others who see this as a step to vigilantism from false or exaggerated information 20 years old, regarding 2 teenage kids who had sex and were labeled as sex offenders for life. This is a scarey scenario when citizens with very little info, have a kneejerk reaction, and make the previously commented upon husband and wife, who having had sex, married, parented kids, and are now, again targeted with mob justice. I am just glad I am not alone in seeing this as another infringement of our rights to privacy. The new apps should be directed at career politicians who seek nothing but power, and want nothing more for people to fear the neighbors. What about an app that repeatedly sends Congress messages for life sentences for real child molesters. What began as a progressive attitude toward violent criminals, has turned into a hand-wringing, apologetic group afraid to take action against the real monsters out there. As mentioned previously, this app does nothing more than make money and instill fear. A deeper issue, which I see as related, comes from Presidential policy based on executive order, and not the will of the people, which should be reflected by the Congress we elected to represent our wishes, not theirs, which I see more and more, starting with the Patriot Act, that holds no relationship with the Constitution as I see it.

Steve Vallance
16th April, 2012 @ 05:26 am PDT

"U.S. Publications Inc says that a study by the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed that sex offenders are four times more likely to re-offend than other convicted criminals, and that 60% of convicted sex offenders are out on parole or probation...."

WRONG!!!! This is so damn, stupidly wrong as-it-can-possibly-be. The truth is, the "stats" they opened this goober-ass "story" with, are the MOST COMMON LIES that the media and "law enforcement" perpetuates about the scary, boogeyman, so-called "sex offenders" (their HATE label/words, not mine) The truth is that 'sex offender' ("registered citizens") re-offend rates are the LOWEST amongst other major crimes, with the exception of murder.. Did you catch that: the LOWEST with the exception of murder. This 'app' is disgusting, dehumanizing, and I'm sure even illegal. Where is the app for DUI convictions? Where is the app for wife-beaters? Where is the app for kidnappers? Where is the app for murderers? Where is the app for bank robbers? And most of all where is the app for ILLEGAL ALIENS? Why single out just ONE crime?

This utter, discriminatory, vigilante-provoking, CRAP... DO NOT USE THIS. Shine this app on.. don't become part of the hysteria sweeping this country at the moment.

Madelin D Farrfan
16th April, 2012 @ 11:32 am PDT

One of the two RSOs killed in Maine from a man who used the registry to choose his victims was a 22 year man who slept with a 16 year old when he was 19.

I disagree to a point with Mr. LAPD officer, recidivism rates among registrants is low, was low long before Megan's Flaw, it is still low now, but the impact of increasingly restrictive laws is negative, as it makes registrants MORE likely to reoffend. The system is one of incapacitation NOT rehabilitation, so there is little wonder why a cop would think that.

Quite frankly, Megan's Flaw needs to be abolished altogether. Society has proven itself incapable of properly handle such a list. It is indeed a vigilante hitlist. Studies have found around 40% of RSOs and their family members have experienced acts of vigilante violence. Now we have kids as young as age 9 on the list. The people who inspired these laws will never live under them. Much like the "war on drugs," it is the petty offender that suffers the most.

oncefallendotcom
16th April, 2012 @ 03:26 pm PDT

No worries people....the app will soon be useless because at the rate and excessive variety of convictions just about everyone will be a registered offender in the very near future. We will be able to have block sex offender picnics and parties. It will soon be the norm, the in thing. You will be an outsider if you are NOT on the registry. And all at tax payer expense. But of course the few who are NOT offenders will be footing the entire bill since offenders can't get jobs! :-}

PROUDMOM2
16th April, 2012 @ 11:43 pm PDT

To reply to Steve Vallance and those who agree with him: This app does not infringe on any person's privacy rights, within the meaning of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. For one, going outside and committing a crime diminishes any expectation of privacy. Secondly, all of the information this app discloses is information that is publicly available. Those people who believe that this app alone will serve as the catalyst for vigilantism ignore the obvious fact that people who engage in vigilantism would likely act out violently regardless of this app. No app is going to transform a reasonable non-violent person into a revenge-seeking vigilante. I agree that the American legal system does not punish sex offenders severely enough, and that the system should be reconsidered in several respects, namely the reclassification of crimes and drugs. However, protecting the names, locations, and details of convicted criminals is not a legitimate interest in a society where many criminals continue to evade imprisonment. This app is just another tool to provide users with knowledge about the community they live in, which is information we as community members are entitled to possess. This app is about freedom of information, those of you who advocate for this information to be censored are advocating ideas that our country fought against when we broke away from the crown of England. Censorship is plainly un-American. In the free society we live in each person has the right to information, and what they do with that information is done at their own risk. To think that this app will cause vigilantism is logically the same as thinking that guns cause violent crime - its moronic. People (not apps or guns) cause vigilantism and violent crime - proof being in the fact that both predate apps and guns.

BFB
17th April, 2012 @ 01:17 pm PDT

BFB.....keep your head in that sand! A 78 year old garbage picker who was savagely beaten by 2 men who used the registry as an alert to sex offender sin their area didn't bother to make sure that the actually were attacking a sex offender. The 78 year old man was not a sex offender. And, should the teens who have consensual sex even be subjected to the possibility of such an attack? WAKE UP!!! It may be necessary for the police to know where they are but the public are not capable of being responsible with the information. When a crime is committed it is not the victim/public that prosecutes, it is the state. So why should the public have access to this? It is no wonder that every piece of empirical data in the last 20 years both before and after the advent of a registry and public notification all come to the same conclusion: The registry does NOT increase public safety and IN FACT has been proven to increase the likelihood of a risk of harm.

PROUDMOM2
17th April, 2012 @ 05:53 pm PDT

I also have this kind of app on my phone. I am a college student and my parents are very protective of me, so they registered me to SafeTREC. It's an app where I would be able to view threat level and registered sex offender in an area. Plus, I would be able to send an alert to my loved ones if I will encounter an emergency, by just simply pressing the Panic Button installed on my phone. If needed, the call will be escalated to the nearest 911. If you would like to get to know more about the service that I have for safety, you can check their site http://SafeTREC.com

Shaira Leah Gomez
9th November, 2012 @ 12:09 pm PST
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