As trick-or-treaters get ready to eerily descend into neighborhoods for Halloween, security professionals should understand how their properties might be just as vulnerable as a camp counselor in the Friday the 13th movie franchise and how to better protect them. Halloween shenanigans can include trespassing, toilet papering, egging, and pelting a facility with pumpkins, as well as more serious crimes like graffiti, vandalism, and burglaries.
The New York Post reported a terrifying stat from a criminologist that violent crime on Halloween is about 50% higher than on any other day of the year and twice the daily average. Even scarier is that property crime is the most common crime on Halloween, with 60% of those involving theft.
It is even more frightening that many security managers are not working with leadership to further protect their properties.
Types of facilities that have been victims of Halloween mischief have included:
- Unoccupied vacant buildings (including haunted and abandoned state psychiatric hospitals).
- Construction sites (both active and abandoned projects with scary legends).
- Cemeteries and mausoleums (especially ones with ghostly tales).
- Churches (both actively holy and abandoned haunted ones).
- Schools and campuses (both open and closed ones with paranormal phenomena).
This mayhem is not a laughing matter and often costs facility owners and security professionals a lot of time, effort, and money to try to fix these damaged, and often historic, properties and bring the responsible parties to justice if they are caught.
Some of the horrendous property crimes at property sites on Halloween have included:
- At cemeteries: toppled cemetery markers, removing tomb doors, and grave robbery.
- At buildings: removal of electrical wiring, copper piping, and other building components, as well as illegal dumping.
- At construction sites: destruction or theft of expensive construction equipment and documents.
- At all properties: graffiti, broken windows, destruction of property, theft of materials and/or money, attempted or successful arson.
Security managers should work with facility owners in determining the best solutions to prevent tricksters and criminals from targeting their properties by doing the following:
- Adding motion-activated security cameras, a smart idea for active and abandoned properties.
- Encouraging volunteers to paint outdoor murals to help reduce unsightly graffiti.
- Increasing walking, biking, and vehicular security patrols.
- Installing an access control system with fencing.
- Putting in alarm systems with signage.
- Adding interior and exterior lighting.
- Boarding up vacant properties.
- Hiding construction materials and other valuables in secure storage areas.
- Keeping properties maintained and having thorough site visits.
- Working with law enforcement on developing a comprehensive plan.
After the Crime
After properties are victimized, property owners and security managers should do the following:
- Contact law enforcement and on-site security to launch an investigation.
- Immediately close the area off to the public.
- Make repairs and remove graffiti promptly.
- Non-profits can reach out to the community for assistance, if necessary, to acquire funds or labor for repair work.
Don’t let Halloween scare you! With proper planning, you can keep your property secure from the monsters who wish to wreak havoc.