Razors in candy, drunk drivers, smashed pumpkins, kidnapping, burglary and drunken assaults are just some of the crimes most worry about as Halloween night creeps closer. Since there are often rises in crimes such as theft, assault and DUI, it is important for both adults and children to be alert and stay safe this year. Fortunately, most cases of crime have decreased in Tempe on Halloween within the last two years.
According to a crime analysis unit report prepared by the Tempe Police Department, crimes committed between the morning of Oct.31 to 3:00 a.m. Nov.1 decreased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. While crimes of residential burglary, theft, theft from vehicle, bike theft and shoplifting increased between the two years, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, motor vehicle theft, fraud, drug possession and DUI have all decreased. Theft, vandalism and simple assault have been consistently top crimes. In 2010 simple assault accounted for 19.1 percent of all crime and in 2011 theft was most common at 20.7 percent.
Lt. Jeffrey Glover of the Tempe Police Department said theft rises Halloween night because thieves try to take advantage of the many different types of people out and view it as an opportunity to steal. Higher assault numbers result from drunken conflicts and fights. He also emphasized crime that arises from drinking, especially near the Arizona State University campus and Mill Avenue.
“It is costumes and everything that comes with that. Those parties can generate a lot of different things. We have a lot of calls for service so more officers are responding to calls at the night time hour. Also you have the drinking that goes on. Sometimes people don’t make the best decisions. They go out drinking and then they drive. So we tend to have a rise in our drunk drivers,” said Glover.
Felipe Romero, 20, is a junior at ASU studying global health. He and his friends will be celebrating on Halloween weekend since the holiday falls on a Wednesday this year. “The day of no one really does anything since it has been falling on a weekday,” said Romero. Last year, he did not celebrate because he was finishing a homework assignment.
This year he and his friends plan on going to “The 13th Floor Haunted House” in Phoenix. They plan on sticking together to make sure no one in the group gets lost or left behind. Since his friends are 21 and plan on going to a Halloween party afterwards, Romero will be driving them. “I am going to be the designated driver. We are going to take the proper safety procedures. I will be driving three people and my car seats five,” said Romero.
Glover stated that police enforcement will be highly visible Halloween night. Officers will be monitoring the roadways where there are trick-or-treaters as a reminder to drivers to be more careful with the high number of pedestrians out on the streets.
“ASU has its own police department and we work well them. They will be out in enforcement and we will be out in enforcement so there will be quite a few officers. But we also have the downtown traffic because bars at Mill will be celebrating Halloween and doing a lot of different promotions and drink specials. So we tend to have a huge crowd of people,” said Glover.
He also mentioned alternatives to trick-or-treating. “Churches have alternatives to going out and trick-or-treating.”
Tempe mother Holly Beguhl has eight children, two who are 8 years old and one that is 10. Her family prefers to focus on the saints for Halloween and take part in a party at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church for All Saints Day. “We trick-or-treat on our way to the church at a few doors of our neighbors but that’s it. I want the focus to be on the good and celebrating the saints,” said Beguhl. At the church they have a corn maze and carnival games. Her advice to parents who take their children tick-or-treating is to always stay with their kids and know where they are going.
halloween safety tips
If parents plan on their child going tick-or-treating, community affairs specialist Molly Enright of the Tempe Police Department offers the following tips:
• Place reflective tape on costumes and provide flashlights for visibility.
• Remind children never to get in a car with a stranger or go into a stranger’s home.
• Plan to trick-or-treat at homes of friends or family.
• Adults should carefully check all treats before they are eaten.
• Consider placing wrapped treats outside for trick-or-treaters.
• Stick close to your children if they do trick-or-treat.
• Stay on the sidewalk — don’t jaywalk.
• Assure cell phones are fully charged.
And for young adults and adults:
• Be aware of your surroundings — be observant and on the alert.
• No underage drinking.
• Designate a driver.
• Never leave your drink unattended — someone could drug you.
• Never get in a car with a stranger or go into a stranger’s home without friends.
• Travel in groups — avoid isolated areas.
• It’s up to you not to let substances or peer pressure influence safe decision making.
• Let friends and family know where you are going and when you expect to return.