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How do you know if a sex offender lives nearby?

READ MORE: How do you know if a sex offender lives nearby?
As parents, we try to do everything we can to keep our kids safe. But how do we know if someone dangerous is living down the street? You can search for registered sex offenders, online and now you can sign up to be notified by phone as well. One woman is glad she signed up. She found out her family shares a wall with a sex offender. Nora Benbow of Wilmington said, “We had no clue." Nora's sister and her kids have been living in a Sumter Drive duplex for years. They have gotten to know the man living next door. “He comes over sometimes and talks with the family and mom and the kids and he's just a good guy,” she said. She just found out the nice man next door is a registered sex offender. "I didn't really have a problem with the kids going over there and visiting him. But now, it'll be a little different," said Benbow. The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry shows more than 500 sex offenders are living in New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen counties. So how do you find out if one lives in your neighborhood? New laws require sex offenders to notify police within three days of changing their address, and a new government program lets you sign up to receive a phone call when a sex offender moves into your area. Simply call 877-627-2826 and follow the instructions. You will have to provide your phone number and zip code. You can also search for convicted sex offenders in your area online. One website you can visit is Click 'Search the Registry', type in your address, and click 'Find Address'. A map will pop up with markers indicating exactly where the offenders live. You can click on any of the markers for detailed information on each offender. If you are looking for a specific offender, you can search that way as well. The site also lets you sign up for e-mail alerts. Between online searching capabilities, and e-mail and telephone alerts, you can stay informed to keep your family safe. If you find yourself in close proximity to an offender, what steps can you take to protect your children? News Channel 3 will have that story tomorrow.

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