Florida site tracks world criminals

A Web site developed for the Seminole County, Fla., sheriff's department

has attracted the attention of law enforcement around the world as a way

of tracking criminals who cross state and international borders in search

of loot.

Groups of "traveling criminals" from places such as Eastern Europe and

South America come to Florida during the winter because of the warm weather,

explained Pete Robinson, Webmaster and special projects coordinator for

Seminole County. When caught and convicted, they have to register with the

local police wherever they are in the state, just as all other felons do,

and that information is posted on the Web site (www.seminolesheriff. org).

"The Web site was originally intended for local people so they could

track felons as they moved around the county," Robinson said. "The national

and international fallout came later."

It's believed to be the only database of such criminals in the world,

Robinson said, which is why it has become such a resource for law enforcement

in and outside the United States. In the county, it has also done its job

as a repository for civilian initiatives such as safety code enforcement

and neighborhood crime watches. Combined with the felon tracking, the Web

site has helped cut the county crime rate to half that in the rest of Florida,

he said.

The Web site was developed and is hosted for free by ICGate Inc., a

Seminole County software development consultancy.

The number of tracked felons is growing by 125 to 150 a month, Robinson

said, and none of their names are removed, even if they die.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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