Does crime spike on Halloween, or is it just another urban legend?
Crime rate does rise on Halloween for a number of reasons. In some cases, criminals take advantage of masks and costumes to hide their identities. Burglaries are more common as well, since many people go out on Halloween and leave their homes unattended.
Petty vandalism–throwing eggs, breaking windows, and so on–also rises on this holiday. Bored teenagers who have outgrown trick-or-treating may decide to lean into the “trick” aspect of Halloween.
In addition, more people are out on the streets later than usual, often with alcohol involved. That creates an environment for crime to flourish. Add in vehicular crimes and accidental injuries–including, sadly, little trick-or-treaters–and it’s clear that crime really does increase on Halloween.
If you go out on Halloween, leave lights on–preferably on a timer. Make sure that you’ve locked the doors and windows, too. Park your car in a garage, if possible.
When attending a party, make sure that you have a way to get home. Charge your phone before you leave. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or opened containers. You’re safer with friends than alone.
Trick-or-treating with little kids requires extra safety measures. Make sure they have some kind of reflective tape on their costumes to make them more visible to motorists.
Stop at street crossings and driveways before charging ahead in pursuit of more sugar. If you will be handing out candy, make sure that your sidewalk and porch are well-lit and free of potential hazards.
In 1974, Ronald O’Bryan intentionally poisoned his own son with cyanide-laced Halloween candy. He attempted to poison his daughter and other children as well, but none of them ate the candy.
O’Bryan had hoped to collect the life insurance policy on his kids. His crime is largely responsible for the annual fear that children’s Halloween candy might be poisoned.
A few years later in 1979, Shirley Ledford was trying to get a lift home from a Halloween party. She accepted a ride from two men in a van who turned out to be the notorious Toolbox Killers. Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were serial killers who tortured and killed female hitchhikers. Ledford became their fifth victim–and the last before they were caught.
In 1981, a killer named Johnny Frank Garrett killed a nun on Halloween and left her naked body for the other sisters to find. He was sentenced to death in 1992 for the crime.
But one of the most horrific Halloween murders happened just 10 years ago in Michigan. William Liske killed his father, stepmother, and stepbrother on Halloween of 2010. The only surviving member of the family, 16-year-old Devon Griffin, came home to find them all murdered.