VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - While children spent designated time frames going door-to-door trick-or-treating, more than 100 sex offenders spent their evening at the Virginia Beach courthouse.
It's part of a statewide initiative called "Operation Porch Lights Out," run by the Department of Corrections.
Halloween can be a scary holiday for parents, who worry about who is handing out the candy.
"It's very scary," said Kelly Hoffman of Virginia Beach, who used an app on her phone to check for sex offenders in the area, before she took her children door to door.
Virginia Beach officials say approximately 150 sex offenders requiring supervision had to check in at the courthouse by 6 p.m. and stayed until 9 p.m., an extra hour after trick or treating is scheduled to end.
Parents say the program allows them to breathe a sigh of relief, and helps them enjoy the night.
"She's just out getting a little extra candy, so I can spend a lot of money or her teeth later on," joked Stacey Yopp, a Virginia Beach parent, who was not aware of the roundup.
The registered sex offenders benefit from the program, too. They spend the hours in workshops and educational discussions.
"We normally have an individual who was on supervised probation before, who was released, and now registered," said Chief Lancelot James, with Adult Probation and Parole. "He would come in and talk about his successes and talk about some of his highs and lows throughout this process.
James says sex offenders knew to report to the courthouse, because they received a letter in the mail and agreed to it.
Police made sure sex offenders who had to stay home had their lights out, so trick-or-treaters would not approach their homes.
If one of the sex offenders is a no show, police try to track the person down. In worst case scenarios, no show sex offenders could face charges.
Police conducted random drug and alcohol tests at the sex offender meeting locations. They also updated the sex offender registry.
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