There have been reports on social media regarding a registered sex offender in the Augusta area who has been taking pictures of younger girls in public and posting them on the Internet. And while police are aware of the issue, they are limited in what they can do, since taking and posting such photos is not against the law.

The pictures, which have been posted on a public photo-sharing site, show younger girls in public places, such as the grocery store and other retail establishments. There is no nudity in the pictures available on the public site, but it appears that the photos were taken without the subject's knowledge.

Det. Sgt. Jason Cote of the Augusta Police Department says they have had many people reach out to them regarding this situation, but he added a crime has not been committed. "We have had several calls of a registered sex offender taking pictures of younger girls and posting them to a social media website," Cote said. "The Constitution protects photographing people, places, and things in a public place even if it is a child or young adult."

In a release, Augusta Police Lt. Kevin Lully said there were no restrictions against this particular person taking the photos. "This would only be a violation if a sex offender is on probation and has restrictions prohibiting this type of behavior," he said. "In this cas, there is not probation in place."

While police have not found any evidence of a crime, they continue to look at every report.. "We are looking at every complaint and image to make sure there is no crime that has been committed as we would take enforcement action if something was discovered," Cote said.

"The silver lining to this is it is an exercise in how the sex offender registry works," Cote added. "The registry is designed and set up so that people are aware of the sex offenders in our community and can keep an eye on them to make sure they do not re-offend."

Cote encouraged the public to be aware of what is going on around them in public and report any suspicious behavior to the police.

"We encourage people to contact us in any situation where they feel someone is not behaving appropriately so we can evaluate the situation and take enforcement action if warranted or educate the public as to why we can’t take enforcement action," he said.

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