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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Halloween tricks can be costly to all

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Most people safely enjoy the spooky fun of Halloween, however, not everyone celebrates appropriately.

What is considered harmless pranks -- like toilet papering trees, soaping windows, throwing corn at houses and various other non-damaging acts of mischief -- traditionally occur during Halloween.

Officials urge parents to openly discuss various types of appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.

"Sometimes well-intended pranks miss their mark and not everyone realizes there are consequences for such acts if they become criminal in nature," Clay Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers, who suggests everyone be careful this Halloween, recently told The Brazil Times. "I don't want to see anyone mess up their life or their employment, but sometimes innocent people get physically injured or property is damaged."

While some children might need to be reminded about the general trick-or-treat rules -- which is usually one piece of candy per house and remembering to say "thank you," others may need to be reminded their mischievous behavior has potential consequences.

Whether the person doing the mischief thinks their actions are harmless or not, there could be legal ramifications.

"If someone is caught participating in an act that is potentially illegal, destructive or the victim wants to press charges, that individual could have some legal problems," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times.

According to Heaton, good-natured pranks can lead to police involvement.

Not only could a prankster potentially earn a ride in a patrol car to the Clay County Justice Center, their actions could make a serious dent in their and/or that of their parent's wallets.

A new littering ordinance enacted in August by the Clay County Commissioners, could alleviate toilet paper dangling from trees throughout the county.

According to the ordinance, fines are set at $500 for the first offense and $750 for the second and all subsequent offenses should the matter be settled "without the necessity of court action."

If the issue cannot be resolved outside of court, a conviction would carry maximum fines of $2,500 for the first offense and $7,500 for the second or subsequent offense.

Although it seems humorous, a person caught taking pumpkins, yard decorations and/or other items from someone's property could be charged with theft.

"It's property theft," Heaton said. "And that's illegal."

When property is damaged, then the amount of trouble pranksters could find themselves in has the potential to be greater. Depending upon the age of a person and what they are alleged to have done, the charges filed and court costs will vary.

According to Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger, acts of criminal mischief can be a felony if enough property damage is done.

"Also, a charge of residential entry is a possibility if young people go into properties that they "think" are abandoned," Reberger said.

He believes people should take the approach that what seems fun at the moment may have unintended consequences.

"We also have to remember that it may be funny to you, but the intended victim may not think it is so funny," Reberger said. "If the person has been victimized or targeted before, any future encounters are even more upsetting."

Another issue officials have concern about during Halloween is bullying.

Brazil Police Chief Dave Archer told The Brazil Times there have been several incidents reported in the past where older juveniles have knocked down younger children who were trick-or-treating alone and took their candy bags.

"Trick-or-treaters should travel in groups with adult or responsible supervision," Archer said. "Our department will have officers out on patrol to keep watch, but parents should keep their children in sight at all times to ensure their safety."

Archer suggested chaperones should carry a cell phone with them to report any emergency that should occur, considering most cell phone services provide free 911 calls.

Saturday is the only official night for little ghosts and goblins to be out in Brazil, however, Archer said families can choose to visit homes of friends and family members.

"As for the city's trick-or-treat hours, they were established so people know when trick-or-treaters will be around and homeowners can be prepared," Archer said. "A lot of people leave their porch lights on for safety -- so they can monitor what's happening on their property or so visitor's can get safely to their front doors -- not just for trick-or-treaters. Trick-or-treaters should only visit homes with porch lights on."

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kids cant have any fun . when we were kids we soaped windows, stuck horns, & dumped outhouses. corned cars, we went for the whole week.

-- Posted by nobob on Tue, Oct 27, 2009, at 11:11 PM

And they wonder why the kids around here are becoming parents at young ages or drinking and drugging, it's because this antique town allows them to have "NO FUN" whatsoever!! There's a difference between fun pranks and vandalism just like there is a difference between discipline and abuse!! Learn it people. Is this town trying to run our young people OUT of it?? Seems like it.

-- Posted by Dyna1 on Wed, Oct 28, 2009, at 6:24 AM

If the kids would trick the people they knew and would take a joke, it would be okay. Unfortunely the young people today do not respect the elderly who can not get out and clean their windows. Some of these people live alone and they can be scared very easy. What if harmless corn against the windows scared them into a heart attack. Back in the day, oh yeah, we once soaped windows of a neighbor in her sixtys and believe me we cleaned every window in that house.

-- Posted by mamawpam on Wed, Oct 28, 2009, at 7:37 AM

$500 fine for TPing a house is a bunch of crap.

Let the kids have a little fun. Who wants to TP the court house at 9:00pm on Halloween night? lol.

-- Posted by Kirk Smith on Wed, Oct 28, 2009, at 12:55 PM

No kidding, sure glad there were no fines in place for stuff like that when I grew up in Clay County. A little TP in the trees or soap on some car windows seemed pretty harmless to me. Ah, good times. 9p.m. at the courthouse, I'm there!

-- Posted by coltsbeer on Wed, Oct 28, 2009, at 7:51 PM

As if!Now they are gonna diplomat when we are allowed to give out candy to the kids.I say we all call the Mayor and let her know what we think!(or will it do any good)We have always had 2 nights to be able to take our kids trick or treating in the past.Some parents work and have made prior arrangements,this is a load of Crap!The BPD and Mayor Bradshaw are in a power trip anymore I know where my vote won't be next election!

-- Posted by westsidemom on Thu, Oct 29, 2009, at 11:40 AM

I for one am gonna make it a point to start regulary attending City council meetings.I want some answers to how they come up with the decisions on these types of things.If the council is worried about cost why are they taxing the workers in this county more?Regarding that just look at it this way if they can act like they are doing the public a favor and saving them the money in buying candy for 2 nights,does that excuse the fact that we are gonna be taxed more as workers and maybe we will forget the increase,bcuz they saved us the cost of a bag of candy!LOL!Despite what the city might think we do have smart,"common sense" folk in this town!The average citizen probably has more education than most elected officials.I have 2 children one of them being handicap in a wheelchair and I would like to see them fix more sidewalks,get handicap accessible park equipment and consider those with disabilities when determining these "designated hours".If I have to take my child to another community again this year to be able to trick or treat I will not remain quiet and idle about all the other issues concerning accessability in this community.

-- Posted by westsidemom on Thu, Oct 29, 2009, at 12:10 PM


Well said I totally agree with you and most people on here whats wrong with a little fun? Most officials wonder why kids do these things its becuase theres nothing to do in this town at all. They get in trouble for being at the local parks they cant walk around town without being suspicious, what are they supposed to do sit inside all day and do nothing? I wonder what our officials would do if the local bars and pubs were only allowed to be open a few hours? Hmm they'd be out of luck.

-- Posted by brittbratt on Mon, Nov 2, 2009, at 10:15 AM


Thats a good point we would probably see alot more of them on the front page with DUI's!LOL!

-- Posted by westsidemom on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 12:49 PM

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