Smart-phones can actually help you fight crime and keep your family safe.  Just ask Tracy Rodriguez of Houston, Texas. With a tap on her iPhone screen, the mother-of-three can find out about sex offenders who live within a 10-mile radius of where her kids practice sports, or watch movies.

The information comes from an iPhone app called Offender Locator – which quickly became one of the top 3 paid apps in the iTunes store when it was launched. The app is updated daily from all 50 states’ registered offender lists. It costs $.99.  And that’s just one of the crime-fighting apps that have been developed.

For example, users can conduct a background check during a dinner date with a free app called Date Check. During a blind date, you can punch in the name of the person you’re with, and in seconds you’ll have access to records showing whether your date is a convicted criminal.

Then there’s Spot Crime.  For $2.99 it’ll generate a maps of where crimes have occurred nearby. This can help you avoid certain routes or neighborhoods, and it’s particularly handy if you’re traveling in an unfamiliar city.

Even the FBI launched a free app, FBI Most Wanted, that provides updates of the 10 most wanted fugitives and terrorists.

And recently, a smart-phone helped one robbery victim retaliate! Robbers snatched his wallet, credit cards and iPhone, which was equipped with a GPS function. Using a computer, the man was able to trace the whereabouts of his phone. Eventually, police detained the suspects at a gas station and recovered the stolen items including the victim’s phone.