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DuPage sheriff warns of sex offenders at Halloween

<p>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/14901566@N07/2957010245/" target="_blank">Andrea</a>, Flickr</p>

Photo by Andrea, Flickr

Halloween is a fun and exciting time of year for kids of all ages. Children can hardly wait to put on their costumes and fill up their bags with treats.  Unfortunately that excitement can sometimes make both children and adults forget to be careful while they’re out having fun. With that in mind, DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba has Halloween safety tips to help make Halloween fun and safe for all residents.

Sheriff Zaruba’s multi-jurisdictional countywide S.P.E.A.R. (Sexual Predator Enforcement, Apprehension and Registration) Team will be out in force during Halloween checking to make sure that known sexual offenders are strictly complying with the requirements of the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act. If they are not in compliance, they will be arrested.

“Parents need to know that sex offenders may take advantage of vulnerable children this time of year; I encourage every parent to take a few minutes before their children go out trick or treating to check one of the online sex offender registries so they know if there are any offenders living in their area,” Zaruba stated. “All parents should visit our website at http://www.dupagesheriff/.org and click on the Sex Offender Registry.”  

Family Awareness

“Trick or treating should be a great adventure for our kids,” Zaruba said. “To make this Halloween safe and fun for all, be sure to know whose door your kids are knocking on and follow these safety tips.” 

  • Trick-or-treat before it gets dark in the late afternoon or early evening.  Check with your municipality or neighborhood homeowners’ association to see if there are designated hours for trick-or-treating.  There are no official hours for unincorporated DuPage County, but Sheriff Zaruba recommends that children be home by 7:00 p.m.  If parents and children must go out after dark, stay in well-lighted areas and bring a flashlight.  
  • Older children should trick-or-treat with an adult or in a large group.  Parents should map out a safe route and tell their children to stop only at familiar houses where the lights are on. 
  • Young children should always trick-or-treat with a parent or trusted adult. 
  • Wear costumes that can be seen in the dark.  Many stores sell glow-in-the-dark or reflective items that can be worn or carried while trick-or-treating.  Costumes should also be flame-retardant and short enough to prevent tripping and falling. Avoid hard plastic or wood props, use foam rubber instead. 
  • Stay within your neighborhood and only visit homes you know. 
  • An adult should examine all treats before they are eaten.  Eat only those treats that are un-opened and in their original wrappers.  Sheriff Zaruba recommends that parents discard any homemade treats or fruits or, at a minimum, pay special attention to them.  If you suspect that a treat has been tampered with, save it, and contact your local law enforcement agency for testing.
  • Tell children that they should not enter anyone’s home or car while trick-or-treating. If someone tries to get them to come into their home or car, they should run away and immediately tell a trusted adult. 

Sex Offenders Registries www.dupagesheriff.org or www.mapsexoffenders.com 

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