Connecting Blight and Sex Offenders

Connecting Blight and Sex Offenders

When the Memphis City Council passes a vacant property registry on Tuesday, April 9, it address only one part of the problem created by abandoned buildings. One Memphis real estate broker believes there is a connection between abandoned properties and sex offenders.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - When the Memphis City Council passes a vacant property registry on Tuesday, April 9, it address only one part of the problem created by abandoned buildings. One Memphis real estate broker believes there is a connection between abandoned properties and sex offenders.

Memphis real estate broker David Saks cites examples of rape, murder and other violent crimes in abandoned buildings. He also believes all the vacant properties in Memphis are magnets for sex offenders.

“Wow,” said Wendy Cheatham, “wow, that’s real serious.”

Cheatham lives next to a house that has been abandoned for more than ten years; realtor David Saks had some disturbing news.

“There may be as many as 200-250 registered sex offenders within a mile radius of this place,” Saks told abc24.com.

As proof, Saks offered the National Sex Offenders Registry, which listed 215 sex offenders that fit his parameters.

“Maybe they feel no one is paying attention to them,” Saks said.

But, do blighted, abandoned properties really attract sex offenders?

"Whether it is specifically sex offenders, I don’t know,” said Steve Lockwood, “but I think they draw crime.”

Lockwood is the president of the Frayser Community Development Corporation; he deals constantly with abandoned properties.

Cheatham was upset by the proximity of the sex offenders. “I mean they can jump out and grab anybody,” said Cheatham, “I mean, that’s sick.”

And it is also kind of scary. “Scary sometimes because you never know who is up in there,” she added.

Cheatham said that somebody does sneak into the vacant house next door on a regular basis.

“She’s just not here right now,” Cheatham explained, “but she stays in there at night.”

Saks drew this analogy between blighted areas and sex offenders.

“If you leave a piece of dog poop on the ground and it sits there, maggots and flies are eventually going to fester around it. It’s the same thing here.”

And that led to a message from Wendy to her granddaughter.

“With what I just learned,” said Wendy, “you will not be coming outside by yourself.”

Saks calls the city council’s vacant property registry pointless. He believes eliminating all the blight is the only answer; adding, “It’s not about taxation, it’s about justice.”
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