HOUSTON – Convicted sex offenders are on the loose without a key device to keep track of them after they remove their ankle monitors, allowing them to disappear without a trace.
Crime Stoppers said there are growing calls to change laws to better protect the public.
There is a plea now to change state law so that parolees -- offenders who cut off or tamper with their ankle monitoring device, face criminal charges.
Andy Kahan, director of Victim Services and Advocacy with Crime Stoppers, said that in less than a month -- three convicted sex offenders who were required to report to the southeast Texas transitional center, tampered with their tracking devices. Kahan said all three convicts are now in custody but he believes it speaks to a bigger issue
“If they are willing to go to that extreme who knows what else they are willing to do,” he said.
Kahan said he would like to see criminal charges filed against offenders who cut off the bracelets.
For instance, Jose Rodriguez, who was the first convicted sex offender accused of cutting of his monitoring device and suspected of killing three people in the Houston area.
“You're sending out messages that you aren't going to apply to the rules,” Kahan said.
Rodriguez has been taken into custody, according to TDCJ. He had warrants issued for their arrest prior to removing their monitors because they violated curfew. Still, Khan said he wants to see more stringent laws.
“Perhaps if we put some teeth to that that, would reduce the amount of offenders who take off because they know they won’t be criminally charged,” he said.
When Channel 2 News asked, a representative with the Texas Department of Justice said that it is protocol for law enforcement to make contact with the offender within 24 hours of the device being tampered with it -- if not, a warrant is issued.