Spooky Crime: Does Criminal Activity Increase on Halloween?

Ghoulish behavior, scary costumes and plenty of tricks are a given on Halloween, but should you expect an increase in criminal activity on October 31? If you live in Tempe, Arizona, you might.

Based on a look at crime rates on Halloween in 10 different cities across the U.S., including Tempe, these are the determining factors for Halloween crime rates:

  • Day of the week Halloween falls on. If Halloween occurs over the weekend, parties and other activities could contribute to an increase in crimes on that specific day.
  • Common crimes specific to the city at hand.
  • Any crime prevention programs in place by the city.
  • Whether the city is a college town. University-age students are likely to celebrate Halloween with drinking and partying, which could lead to increased criminal activity.
  • Whether any Halloween activities are available for kids and teens. If structured Halloween activities are available, this could reduce the chance of kids and teens getting into legal trouble with pranks, like toilet papering a house, which could be considered vandalism.

In Tempe, theft, vandalism and simple assault top the charts for Halloween crimes, followed by alcohol-related incidents. With Tempe being home to Arizona State University, the largest public university in the U.S., parties and heavy traffic in popular entertainment areas like Mill Avenue make incidents such as DUI and assault fairly common, especially during holidays and special events like Halloween.

Of course, whether criminal activity spikes on Halloween in Arizona depends on a variety of environmental factors. And while these specific crimes are at the top of the list to look out for on Halloween in Tempe, it’s important to look at these results with an analytical eye.

Tempe’s crime rates fluctuate due to a drastic change in population during the workday, which increases by 46 percent each day thanks to high numbers of people from all over the Valley commuting to ASU as well as Tempe’s many employment hubs. Tempe was ranked eighth most dangerous suburb in America in a 2014 crime-rate compilation by real estate company Movoto LLC, however, this does not necessarily mean that Tempe is a dangerous city.

Crime rates are determined by dividing the number of crimes reported by the city’s residential population, which means that Tempe’s inflated daytime population could skew its data, resulting in misleading crime rates. This same issue is also true for any special event or holiday that generates a crowd or celebration, like Halloween.

So, should Arizona residents be worried about an increase in crimes on Halloween? Not necessarily. Just be aware that there’s always a risk of criminal behaviour when crowds and parties are involved. Otherwise, following the same safety precautions practiced on an everyday basis, like locking up and keeping a close eye on kids, should do the trick.

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