STATESBORO — Along with trick-or-treating and dressing up as someone we’re not, Halloween festivities can welcome crime.
With more people in masks and costumes, it is easier to miss someone’s true identity on Oct. 31. There is crime everywhere, everyday, but reports have shown Halloween makes it even easier for assaults, rape, alcohol and drug abuse to be reported.
From Oct. 15 to Oct. 22, there have been three reported rapes on Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro campus, one of them occurring in 2017.
From Oct. 21 to Oct. 28, there have been six reports of damage to property, one report of theft, four drug related reports, one verbal altercation, two reports of battery, one report of possession of alcohol and public drunkenness on the GS Statesboro and Armstrong campuses, according to the Georgia Southern Police Department’s daily crime and fire logs.
Last year, from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, there were five cases of possession of alcohol under 21 or minor in possession of alcohol, one person arrested for battery, report of a verbal altercation and possession of marijuana, according to GSPD records.
Whether or not these reports relate to the holiday, the community has cautioned people participating in activities to be aware of their surroundings and stay safe.
Crime is more common around this holiday due to young people thinking they are anonymous because of their costumes, which is Chief Deputy Mike Broadhead’s, of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, biggest concern around Halloween.
“Add a little alcohol, and risk goes up,” Broadhead wrote in an email.
Chief Laura McCullough of the GSPD has not seen an increase in alcohol and drug abuse around Halloween in her experience in law enforcement, but pranks are more common around this time. While many costumes require masks, McCullough wants to remind people that wearing them outside of Halloween is illegal.
“One important thing to remember is that it is illegal to wear masks in the state of Georgia except on Halloween itself,” McCullough wrote in an email. “Masks should not be worn at any other time or days, especially when driving a vehicle or entering into businesses.”
As far as alcohol and party culture surrounding Halloween, Broadhead doesn’t see much of an increase in alcohol and drug abuse than normal.
“Obviously this is driven by social circles...some groups may never use alcohol or drugs while other groups may be more inclined,” Broadhead said. “I do think Halloween is a "party-opportunity" during which some social groups may be more inclined to use alcohol or drugs than at other times of the year.”
Broadhead encourages college students to be aware of their surroundings and to go out with friends that are trustworthy. As for girls wanting to stay safe at parties, the chief recommends having a wing-man alongside you at any house parties.
“If you overindulge in alcohol, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position because predators come in all shapes and sizes,” Broadhead said. “That guy that seems so nice might be masking his true intentions. Do not accept open drinks that you have not personally poured or opened, and don't leave your drink laying around unattended. Do not get intoxicated and your risk level goes down. The higher your level of intoxication, the more risk.”
Georgia Law and staying proactive
Some states have a “no candy” law forbidding sex offenders from coming out of their homes on Halloween. While Georgia does not have any laws for the holiday specifically, there are year round supervisions.
Instead, there is a Sex Offender Special Conditions of Supervision which states that, “Offenders shall have no contact, whatsoever directly in person or indirectly through any means of communication...with any child under the age of 18, including your own children, nor with any person unable to give consent because of mental or emotional limitations,” according to the Department of Community Supervision.
An officer from Butts County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia placed signs in the yards of sex offenders this October, resulting in a lawsuit towards the Sheriff’s Office, according to CNN. The suit says that the officer had no legal obligation to place the signs in the offenders’ yards.
"No trick-or-treat at this address,” the signs read, according to CNN.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Community Supervision are hosting a sex offender Haloween Shut-In from 6 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 31. This is the 13th annual shut-in and is designed to closely monitor sec offenders while children are out on the holiday, according to The Covington News.
Sarah Smith, The George-Anne News Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org