Police warn of property crimes on Halloween

Police warn of property crimes on Halloween.

BOISE -- Halloween is just a few days away: a time for kids to dress up in make-believe and to decorate our houses in ghoulish gear and hand out candy.

National data shows, it's also a time for a rise in property crime.

USA Today partner NerdWallet says crime-related insurance claims rise by more than 24 percent on Fright Night. Police are warning about crimes of opportunity such as theft and vandalism - especially in areas where a lot of people are out and about.

"You're naturally going to see a little bit of a rise in property crime or malicious injury to property just because of the sheer fact that there are a lot of people out," Deputy Chief of Meridian Police, Tracy Basterrechea, said.

That is part of the reason why they send extra patrols to an area popular for Halloween festivities: Harrison Boulevard in Boise. People who live there tell KTVB that in addition to police presence, having so many people up and down the street on Halloween probably helps stop crimes from happening.

On Friday, local police didn't have any hard crime statistics available from October 31 in years past, but they did warn people to pay attention to what is going on around them.

"Be cognizant of people that are acting stranger than usual. you know loitering on your porch longer then not walking away when they get the candy," Boise Police Patrol Lt. Danielle Young added.

USA Today reports recent data from Traveler's Insurance shows an especially sharp tick in burglaries and thefts outside the home.

"We lock our door at night when we're done with our candy," one resident on Harrison Boulevard, Toni Sabarots, told KTVB.

Numbers show that vandalism makes up a good portion of property crime insurance claims on Halloween.

"Quite honestly, there's a lot of juveniles out without any supervision. So they look for those easy targets," Basterrechea added.

Easy targets like Halloween decorations to destroy or pumpkins to smash. They are also seeking more valuable targets, like your car.

"If you leave your cars unlocked, if you leave things sitting out on your porch, unfortunately there's a certain segment of those kids and they're going to go out there and look for crimes of opportunity," Basterrechea said.

While most people prowl the streets for candy, police say thieves may be prowling for other goodies.

"On Halloween we let hundreds of people walk up to our door. We open our door, they can see in our house, if our garage is open they can see our cars sitting in there, maybe your skis, your bicycles," Lt. Yound said, "and you don't know that they're not thinking, 'hey maybe I can come back later and steal that.' Not to say they would, but that's something to keep in mind on Halloween."

Homeowners on Harrison Boulevard see over 3,000 visitors at their doors trick-or-treating. Despite that, they say they feel safe.

"I kind of feel like because there are so many people, it almost seems like less things would happen because there's just so many eyes watching," Sabarots said.

"The police patrol the street and set up their mobile unit and have dogs here and hand out candy, and they're up and down the sidewalks. And their presence is well-known," one Harrison Blvd resident Paula Kluksdal said. "You want to be really careful with traffic, obviously, because there are a lot of people and it's crazy. The street is not closed and kids are darting in and out."

Officers tell KTVB the main thing they are focused on come Monday night is safety.

"Our biggest concern - more than vandalism or anything like that - is we want to make sure we're taking care of the kids that are out trick-or-treating," Basterrechea said.

Because Halloween is on a Monday this year, police say it might be a slower night and people might not be out too late. But there will be parties this weekend, and officers say they will be out in full force watching for drunk drivers.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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