Halloween is just around the corner, and children will soon be running up and down driveways in hopes of filling their candy bucket to the brim. We’re often busy on Halloween too, as the night usually brings a spike in calls for certain juvenile crimes like ding dong ditching and vandalism.
Halloween night carries a common theme for anyone with a child; Be mindful of strangers. Parents usually chaperone younger kids on their Halloween jaunt, and oftentimes they’ll inspect the candy before the tired youngsters dive into a late-night sugar rush, but police are once again providing parents with a Halloween safety tip – Avoid homes where the lights are off. Maybe the lights are off because nobody is home or they simply don’t want to be disturbed, but there could be another reason. The person inside could be a sex offender.
That line isn’t meant to postulate that every dark house is home to a pedophile, but the fact of the matter is that Illinois passed a law last year called the Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition law. Terms of the law state that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from participating in a holiday event with children under the age of 18. This means that sex offenders are forbidden from handing out candy on Halloween.
“If the lights aren’t on at the residence, don’t go up to the door,” said O’Fallon Police Lt. Jim Cavins. “What sex offenders must do … similar to somebody who doesn’t want to deal with trick-or-treaters … they have to turn out their outside lights.”
Similar to last Halloween when the law went into effect, police officers will be completing compliance checks to ensure offenders are following the law. If an officer finds that an offender is in violation of the law, they could face revocation of parole and additional jail time.
We’re not trying to scare anyone with this post, and the vast majority of reformed sex offenders want nothing to do with handing out candy on Halloween, but a simple reminder of the law can’t hurt.
Follow these tips to have a safe and happy Halloween!
1. Trick or Treat in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods.
2. Always make sure children are supervised by an adult.
3. Bring a flashlight to see where you are going (and to help others see you!)
4. Report any suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.
5. If you or a family member runs into legal trouble on Halloween night, give Appelman & Associates a call.
Related source: Belleville News-Democrat