Monday, November 27, 2006

Halloween Incident Report Issued

A police report on Halloween 2006 included criminal mischief, assaults and confiscation of paintball equipment.

The official crime analysis report follows citizen outcry over one assault that left a city resident hospitalized with a broken jaw and many other residents taken aback by the behavior of people who came to their doors on the traditional trick-or-treating night.

Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig released data last week that showed three reported incidents of criminal mischief, three reported assaults and two reports labeled “confiscated/found property.”

Hellwig said it is important that all incidents are reported and that next year he will publicize the city’s juvenile curfew at the schools, especially the high school.

Among the incidents:

At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30, also known as Mischief Night, three juveniles were arrested for disorderly conduct after they threw eggs at a van and a NJ Transit bus at Plainfield Avenue and West Fourth Street.

Several school bus windows were broken overnight Oct. 30 in the parking lot at 920 Park Avenue.

Police found paintballs and four paintball guns in two incidents Oct. 30 in the 500 block of West Third Street. Police responded at 2:46 p.m. and 8:09 p.m. to reports that paintball shootings were taking place. On Halloween, police again confiscated a gun at 9:56 p.m. from a car in the 500 block of West Second Street after a call that someone was shooting paintballs at passing vehicles.

Paintballs were shot from a car on Halloween at 8:48 p.m. near Putnam Aveneue and Franklin Place. A man, 58, told police he was struck several times by paintballs while riding his bicycle there.

A group of males wearing no costumes pushed their way into a house in the 1400 block of Prospect Avenue at 6:30 p.m. on Halloween, leaving after the victim’s son yelled at them. As they left, they broke lights and ceramic lanterns and tampered with other lights in front of the house.

A woman, 66, told police about 15 youths came to her door at 8:25 p.m. in the 900 block of Kensington Avenue and began throwing medium-sized pumpkins at her after she told them she might not have enough candy for all of them. They left when the victim’s son arrived home.

The worst Halloween incident was at 8:37 p.m. in the 700 block of Leland Avenue, where a man, 21, stopped his car after two men jumped in front of his car. The two men pulled the victim from his car and assaulted him, causing a broken jaw. The attackers said nothing and took nothing from the victim.

Other incidents may not have been reported to police and did not show up on the crime analysis report prepared after residents called for an accounting.

In recent years, parents of younger children have curtailed door-to-door trick-or-treating in favor of organized events in a safe place. The city held a Halloween party at Washington Community School for children and some schools held costume parades. The Salvation Army offered a “Trunk-or-Treat” event in which volunteers opened their car trunks on the parking lot to display treats for children to choose.

Halloween 2007 is a long way off, but here is a web site with safety tips.

--Bernice Paglia


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