Does the Crime Rate Spike on Halloween?

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    Children participate in the annual Ragamuffin Halloween Parade, postponed by Hurricane Sandy, in Hoboken, New Jersey November 12, 2012. Restoration efforts continue in Hoboken, a city across the Hudson River from New York, while tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the hardest hit sections of New York and New Jersey remained without electricity, but most residents affected elsewhere were powered up by Monday morning.
By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
October 31, 2013|12:27 pm

In the United States, the holiday of Halloween invokes images of costumes, trick-or-treating, scary movies, creepy decorations, and similar festive décor.

However, it is also connected to darker ideas, such as various disturbing urban legends, paranormal mythology, and similar themes.

On a more worldly level, many have wondered if the last day of October, especially during the evening, is a time of immense criminal activity.

Many have asked online and off whether Halloween is a date that involves a dramatic increase in criminal acts.

Sgt. Greg Lyon, spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, told The Christian Post that he doubts such a trend exists in the crime rate.

"I spent 11 years working in street patrol before taking my current assignment and spent many of those years working on Halloween during evening hours," said Lyon.

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"I do not, however, recall that night being any busier than any other night. But that is my personal experience."

Lyon provided CP with crime statistics during Halloween in Atlanta, Ga., noting that for the month of October, Halloween tended to not stick out.

"Although Halloween in 2011 appeared to be a busy night, I think you'll notice that higher crime rates for various types of crime are scattered throughout the month, so I would be hesitant to conclude that being Halloween equates to higher crime rates," said Lyon.

Furthermore, if there was a trend of high crime for the Halloween date it is unlikely to be an increasing problem.

Gwendolyn Crump, director of the Office of Communications for the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. provided The Christian Post with statistics contrasting Halloween 2011 and Halloween 2012.

Crump noted that between those two dates, violent crime was down 26 percent, property crime was down 11 percent, and overall crime was down 15 percent.

Many communities have their own neighborhood watches during Halloween, which may factor into there being a lower and possibly decreasing crime rate.

One example can be found with Fairfax County, Va., where George Mason University's student government annually organizes an event known as "Witch Watch."

As part of "Witch Watch," groups of about four to five volunteers go to various communities in Northern Virginia and serve as neighborhood watch.

Lyon also told CP about some of the things that Atlanta's police officers do on All Hallows' Eve to help ensure the public's safety.

"This year, like every year, officers are given marching orders at roll call to be visible and engaging to the families out trick or treating. We will decrease our speeds and be mindful of the kids out in the dark. And we, of course, would like to remind all citizens to do the same," said Lyon.

"Additionally, we are participating in Operation Safe Halloween, which is a partnership with the Department of Corrections. Each precinct supplies two officers to this endeavor. We partner with DOC to knock on the door of registered sex offenders to make sure they aren't having any contact with children by answering their doors and giving out candy."

While some argue that Halloween does not have a significant increase in crime, others have pointed to different cities where a correlation between Halloween night and criminal activity does appear to exist.

Northeastern University Professor James Alan Fox argued that from 2006 to 2009, the violent crime rates for Boston, Mass., spiked on three dates each year: New Year's Day, Independence Day and Halloween.

Writing for the "Crime and Punishment" blog at Boston.com in 2011, Fox stated that not only was Halloween a horrible time for criminal activity, it was the worst.

"The evening violent crime count on October 31 is about 50 percent higher than on any other date during the year, and twice the daily average," wrote Fox. "The most popular hours for gathering Snickers and Junior Mints around the neighborhood are apparently also the prime time for violent crime."

 

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