Halloween Crime

By Owen Andersen

In terms of road accidents alone, October 31st remains one of the most dangerous days of the year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS). But road accidents aren’t the only illicit activities Americans partake in on Halloween; in a 2016 study conducted by Travelers Insurance, there is a 24% uptake in crime-centered insurance claims on Halloween (usa.today), in tandem with a 72% increase in claims related to vandalism and mischief (Forbes.com). But why does crime spike on the scariest night of the year?

Arguably the biggest reason for Halloween naughtiness is alcohol. The Alcohol Addiction Center conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans, finding that 19% of adult male participants participated in binge drinking on Halloween night; adult females, 12% (alcohol.org). Additionally, alcohol use has a tendency to disseminate into teenage demographics, adding underage drinking to the list of common spooky season misdemeanors. Consequently, alcohol statistically fuels additional crime—DUIs (Halloween’s most common crime), assault, disorderly conduct, even homicide. 

Widespread alcohol-induced belligerence on top of low nighttime visibility and costumes makes Halloween an increasingly dangerous event for pedestrians. A 42 year long study from the NHTS discovered that pedestrian fatalities are 43% higher on the 31st than an average day. The study examined national pedestrian deaths from 5:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night versus deaths one week before and after from 1975-2016. Overall, the two night control group produced 851 pedestrian fatalities, while Halloween alone resulted in 608. Dishearteningly, the biggest jump between the control group and Halloween was regarding children aged 4-8: 11 to 55.

Not only does Halloween jeopardize the average person’s life, but their property too. Choosing trick over treat, petty crimes like theft, property damage, and vandalism go through the roof; Travelers Insurance’s claims data reveals a 72% increase in vandalism and mischief insurance claims regarding Halloween antics. Unlike more violent offenses, these childish acts are most likely a byproduct of the holiday’s nature. A night where everybody’s out of the house and costumed up makes for the perfect anonymity and immunity for some delinquent behavior. Moreover, Halloween’s status as a night of monkey business inherently promotes low level criminality, normalizing unscrupulous deeds; when the motto is “trick or treat” it’s no shocker some people are going to pick trick. 

So, due mainly to alcohol and holiday delinquency, Halloween induces a dangerously juvenile state throughout the nation. Over the past 21 years, the average Halloween death count is 5.5 (bestplaces.net). If you’re not careful, you might up the average, so just choose treats and avoid tricks.