The candy is a given, but the debate still continues on: does an actual uptick in crime occur every October 31st on Halloween? Turns out this can vary depending on factors as simple as the night of the week that Halloween falls on (Monday versus Friday, for example), and even the city itself. Other aspects could also have an effect: Does the city have a crime prevention program in place? Is there a college town nearby? Are programs in place for teens and young adults? Take a look at some of what has happened on Halloweens past in 10 cities and what is being done to help prevent or discourage crime there on Halloween.
- 1. Orlando : Be aware of the person behind the mask.Police officers in Orlando have reported that around Halloween every year an uptick in crime occurs by criminals wearing Halloween masks. In Florida, this has included two men with gorilla masks pistol-whipping a man depositing money at a credit union and two robbers wearing Halloween masks stabbing a man behind a restaurant, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Of course, the decision to put on a Halloween mask or that Scream disguise to commit a crime is not unique to Orlando alone but wearing a masking could result in other consequences in the state. For example, in Florida, anyone committing a crime while wearing a mask can face ramped-up charges. As well, a Florida law prohibits anyone over the age of 16 from wearing a mask (or hood) in a public place or during a meeting except on Halloween (and masquerades). Yes, sad to say, this dates back to the days of the Ku Klux Klan and was enacted to prevent members from wearing hoods during their Klan marches. Perhaps even scarier is that this law has been used 203 times following its 1951 passage, according to the paper.
- 2. Orange County : Watching out for children.The City of Orange had the safety of its children in mind when it passed an ordinance saying that sex offenders must post signs on their doors on Halloween to keep trick-or-treaters from knocking there. According to the L.A. Times, the city ordinance required these offenders to place a sign on their door at least 12-by-24 inches in size reading: ‘No candy or treats at this residence.’ Repercussions for failing to do so included a possible $1,000 fine or a year in jail. However, a federal lawsuit filed in September 2013 by a group called Reform Sex Offenders Laws said the city ordinance violates sex offenders’ First Amendment rights and puts them and their families at risk. There are reportedly more than 80 registered sex offenders living in the city. Nonetheless, by late September, in a 4-0 vote, the city had revoked its ordinance. “Our intent wasn’t to bring any unnecessary harm or scrutiny to any particular individual,” City Attorney Wayne Winthers told the L.A. Times. “We just wanted to protect children.”