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Authorities keeping an eye on Forsyth Co. sex offenders

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- There are over 570 registered sex offenders in Forsyth County alone. That's according to Sheriff William Schatzman, who says his office is doing its part to keep any eye on them.

The sheriff's office, along with Winston-Salem police, Kernersville police, the NC Department of Public Safety, NC State Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service, conducted an operation this week. They called it "Operation Hammer" and it was aimed at making sure sex offenders are in compliance with the law.

They checked on 242 of the offenders. Of the 242, only one was arrested. His name is Jason Lee Lawson, of Walkertown. Lawson, a felon, was arrested for having a firearm.

FOX8 went to Lawson's neighborhood to see if his neighbors knew who he was.

"I speak to him when he comes by, I watch him, but I speak to him. He'll walk up and down the street," said Lawson's neighbor, Bobby Householder.

Householder says he learned of Lawson's past from a neighbor. Lawson was convicted in 2005 for indecent liberties with a minor. We knocked on his door but there was no answer.

However, it wasn't until Friday morning that Householder went on the North Carolina Department of Justice's sex offender registry. When he did, he realized he was surrounded.

"I was absolutely amazed that there was that many, I mean, I think it was 43 within a certain, I think maybe within a five mile radius of our home right here," said Householder.

There are actually 43 sex offenders within three miles of the Householder residence. Within five miles, there are 129.

"What's even scarier, within probably two miles as the crow flies, there's a school," said Householder.

Householder says other people in the neighborhood have checked the site as well.

"They let their children know that if they see that young man, you know, come on in the house," said Householder. "When the government gives us the ability to do these websites, and have these websites, then it's up to us to find out who these people are."

The operation took place on the 8th and 9th of this month; just days ago. Friday morning, Householder says, Lawson was back in the neighborhood.

"I'll be honest with you, it kind of shocked me that he had gotten out already. You know but, that's the way things happen," said Householder.

Forsyth County sheriff's officials say they also opened 14 new cases as a result of the operation, which they will be looking into.

The operation was two-fold. The NC Department of Public Safety also did a check on those on probation and parole in the county. As a result, they made 12 arrests for anything from firearm possession to growing marijuana.

"We are safer today because of the actions of all of the law enforcement involved, and that will continue to be the case here in Forsyth County," said Sheriff Schatzman.

The NC Department of Justice's sex offender registry lists 736 sex offenders in Guilford County, 299 in Davidson County and 223 in Alamance County.



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