SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) Police warn Utah parents to locate registered sex offenders before children go trick-or-treating Wednesday night.
“Kids can encounter them at any time, at any day,” mother of three Jacqie Rojas said.
Unlike other states, the Utah Department of Corrections admits there is not a specific rule regarding Halloween for registered sex offenders. Conditions, however, prohibit registered sex offenders from participating holiday festivities where children are present.
Rojas says she’s aware Halloween brings a unique danger.
“You normally wouldn’t take candy from a stranger and go with them for candy,” Rojas said.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there who have a preference for child sex partners,” Unified Police Detective Ken Hansen, who spent years on Utah’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Hansen believes the danger isn’t just kidnapping. Registered offenders have been known to take pictures or video of trick-or-treaters for sexual purposes.
“You want it to be an exchange of trick-or-treating, here’s the candy and leave. You can have it be a happy experience but it needs to be short,” Hansen advised.
Hansen suggests mapping out a trick-or-treat route and cross-referencing it to the registered sex offender database. Cross out off-limit houses. Parents should also scout the route ahead of time. If children go alone, make sure they have a charged cell phone.
“I know back in the day, I’d go out with my friends, no rules, whatever. Now I’m like, I don’t know if I would do that,” Stacie Witbeck said.