Tobias Gonzales reported he was homeless and living beside the stately brick homes in the 1300 block of Franklin Street, just north of Cheesman Park. Now, he says he's homeless in another residential neighborhood miles away, at West 48th Avenue and Tejon Street.
George Welch lists an alley one block south of the governor's mansion as his home address. Michael Hagin calls the busy corner of Broadway and Colfax — the intersection in front of The Denver Post building — his home. Anthony Sanchez describes himself as a transient living at 8 Fox St., but the man who answered the door said he's never heard of him.
All are convicted sex offenders — four of 162 in Denver alone who now say they have no fixed address.
Now, under a new state law, police departments are not required to verify their locations. And while the law instructs law enforcement agencies statewide to report their numbers of homeless sex offenders every six months, state officials acknowledged last week that no such reports exist.
"It just seems like a loophole to me," said Larry Valencia, who managed the sex offender registration program for the Denver Police Department until last September. "If you don't know where they're at, why bother trying to register them?"
A state audit earlier this year criticized sex offender treatment programs in Colorado prisons, finding that many prisoners waited years for treatment, then received inadequate treatment when they got off a waiting list.
That poses a risk to Colorado communities, Valencia suggested, especially if offenders register as homeless once they leave prison.
With the new law, tracking sex offenders "seems like it went from good to worse," he said. "They start talking to each other: 'Hey, just go down to Denver and tell them you're homeless.' "
In Denver alone, 16 homeless sex offenders are missing and are wanted for failing to register. Half have been missing since 2012 or earlier. Among them: Justin Aldrich, Michael Covert and David Enders, each convicted of sexually assaulting a child; Samuel Gilpin and John Means, convicted of attempting to sexually assault a child; and Kevin Tindall, convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault.
The new state law was intended to cut down on false claims of homelessness by requiring sex offenders to "self-verify" their locations more often. Depending on the severity of their crimes, homeless offenders now must report to a local law enforcement agency either monthly or quarterly.
But at the same time, the law lessened the burden on police departments that complained their resources were strained by hunting for sex offenders under interstate bridges or in riverside tents.
"A local law enforcement agency shall not be required to verify the physical location" reported by a homeless sex offender, it says.
Rep. Bob Gardner, the House sponsor, said he did his best to tackle an intractable problem, and that particular provision was a police request.
"I will tell you that local law enforcement agencies wanted it to be clear that they had no obligation to do this," he said. "Is that ideal? No."
The law contains provisions to test its effectiveness. But The Denver Post found state compliance with the reporting requirements has ranged from sketchy to nonexistent.
For example, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and each local law enforcement agency was supposed to report the number of transient sex offenders every six months, beginning in July 2012.
The state does not have the three reports that should exist by now. Susan Medina, a bureau spokeswoman, noted that the reporting requirement is "subject to available resources" under the law.
Medina said that as of Tuesday, the bureau listed 722 adult and juvenile sex offenders as homeless. That "is the only data CBI has at this time," she said.
The state Sex Offender Management Board also conducted an informal count in February concerning homeless sex offenders. But it received only a partial response from law enforcement agencies and a statewide total of 341 offenders that did not break down where they lived.
The board also asked whether homeless sex offenders are reporting their whereabouts to police departments more often, as the new law requires. But its survey did not seek hard numbers.
Instead, it asked law enforcement agencies whether "people are generally coming in and doing this or not," said Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, the board's program manager. "It's more of a qualitative analysis than a quantitative analysis, if you will. Give us your impression, not a calculation."
In general, most law enforcement agencies reported compliance was about the same.
In Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city, detectives are seeing a steady growth in the reported number of homeless sex offenders, despite the new law. The city police department counts 64 now but could not provide past numbers.
Most of them report living at intersections.
Sgt. Steve Noblitt said Colorado Springs offenders were "given a lot of leeway" in the first months after the law required more frequent appearances at the police station. His department has issued five arrest warrants in the past three weeks, however, for people it can't find.
"Here's the problem: What if they're not there?" Noblitt asked. "There's no set guideline that you have to be at this intersection between midnight and 5 a.m."
Jeff Shay, a detective in Pueblo, also sees the number of homeless sex offenders growing despite the stricter "self-verification" requirement.
"We're putting a bigger burden on those who say they're homeless. You'd think that would lead to a decrease, but it hasn't," he said.
Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania, on the other hand, said his department is seeing a steady number of homeless sex offenders — 50 or so — and good compliance with the new law.
"We have a pretty high success rate," he said. And "even though the law says we don't have to verify their locations, we do."
In Denver, Valencia estimated that 50 to 55 of the sex offenders he tracked actually were homeless. Yet the reported numbers of homeless sex offenders in the city have nearly doubled in two years, from about 85 to 162.
"I think it goes without saying that a lot of services are provided to homeless people in Denver," said Lt. Catherine Davis, who oversees the Denver police department's sex crimes section.
She said Denver police continue to check the locations given by transient sex offenders, and "this group does actually self-regulate" by reporting periodically.
But "it's challenging. It's one of the more challenging aspects of our entire list," she said. "You obviously can't expect them to be standing there 24/7."
Today, 23 of Denver's 162 homeless sex offenders are either wanted or back in custody.
Of the rest, 85 percent report living in the vicinity of two homeless shelters.
Eighty list their transient address as the 1100 block of Park Avenue West, the location of the Denver Rescue Mission. Thirty-eight others list the 1900 block of 29th Street, the location of the Salvation Army Crossroads shelter.
How many actually stay at the Denver Rescue Mission?
"I have no idea. Since they're not registered to our physical address, we don't track those folks," said Josh Geppelt, the shelter director. "I can't confirm if that's accurate."
He noted that the Denver Rescue Mission is an emergency shelter for homeless men, not a long-term residence. "We're there as a stopgap to help meet their needs today," he said.
Warren Dabis, a Salvation Army official in Denver, said that "these people are shunned by the public in general and are trying to make their way," sometimes without a home.
"We really wouldn't know," he said, how many sleep regularly in its shelter beds.