How To - Halloween Safety
Oct
21

Halloween Safety: How to Find Out Who Lives in Your Neighborhood Before Halloween

Neighbors can be Spooky! Find out which doors you should AVOID before Halloween!

Most people think that Halloween safety is just a matter of knowing their neighbors, but how much do you really know?

Consider this: Do you know all of your neighbors? Most likely not. How well do you know the neighbors you do socialize with? How many of them would you trust with your children?

The reality is that there are gaps in your neighborhood knowledge. And, you should fill those gaps before you go out Trick-or-Treating this Halloween. Otherwise, your Trick-or-Treating adventures could be a lot scarier than you want them to be.

Who might live in your neighborhood?

The most obvious reason to find out who lives in your neighborhood is to avoid Trick-or-Treating at the house of a sex offender.

Just because someone is a sex offender doesn’t mean they’re broke. Many sex offenders live in affluent neighborhoods and earn respectable incomes. And, even if a sex offender was convicted decades ago, and there have been no incidents since, sex offenders are never legally allowed to participate in Trick-or-Treating.

It’s impossible to surmise whether or not someone is a sex offender based on surface-level information. And, it’s best for everyone if you can avoid a sex offender’s house altogether.

Additionally, sex offenders aren’t the only unsavory types that you might want to avoid. It’s wise to dodge any criminal’s house on Halloween, regardless of the crime.

Fortunately, a little bit of research will show you which doors to knock on, and which houses to skip.

Find out who lives in your neighborhood

Each state maintains its own sex offender registry. Most state databases are searchable by zip code. Check your state sex offender registry first. It’s free and easy to find by searching: {your state} sex offender registry.

However, there’s no national sex offender registry, and the state databases are not linked. So, if a sex offender moves from one state to another, he won’t be listed in the sex offender database of the state he moves to unless he reports the move.

And, criminal records suffer from the same issue. A crime committed in one state won’t necessarily show up in the records of another state.

So, you may need to do your own digging.

Getting names and addresses

Start at Nextdoor.com. You’ll need to create an account but, you can pull a ton of names and addresses in your expanded neighborhood from their database for free. Some will have names for users that share that information, others won’t.

If there are addresses without names on Nextdoor, you can do a reverse address lookup to find out who lives at any address one by one or you can create an excel file with a list and look them all up at once.

A reverse address lookup costs a couple of dollars, but the information is incredibly accurate so you know that any criminal records associated with that address are correct. And, honestly, it’s like paying for insurance. It’s more than just a bummer if you didn’t do it and it would have avoided an issue.

Once you have names and addresses, you can run a couple of checks on them to make sure they’re safe to visit. If you have a lot of addresses without names you might find this batch append tool handy. It lets you upload an excel file with addresses to get the names appended to your file. It’s both faster and cheaper than doing them one by one.

Finding the bad apples

With just a name and an address, you can get all the information you need to decide where you’re going to Trick-or-Treat.

  • Run a criminal records check on the names and addresses you retrieved from Nextdoor.

A criminal records search will identify the vast majority of houses to avoid. This search will identify sex offenders. It also gives information about felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic offenses. It’s all the information you need to make a completely informed decision about where you Trick-or-Treat or for that matter, what neighbors you want to avoid anyway.

Halloween Safety: do a criminal records search to find the safest places to trick or treat.

A good criminal records check also costs a couple of buck, but, the data is also dependable. While free searches do exist, that data is rarely updated and poorly quality controlled. You’ll likely get inaccurate data, so what’s the point of spending all that time checking if it leads to being unsafe anyway or missing houses with good people who have great treats.

So, a paid criminal records search is more than worth the price if you have any suspicions or really want to know your neighbors.

  • Check for arrest warrants.

Obviously, this step is unnecessary if the criminal records check found something. However, not everyone with an arrest warrant has a conviction. Arrest warrants are often issued for pending convictions because the perpetrator did not appear for their trial as ordered.

Pending charges may not show up in a criminal records search, because there’s no conviction (yet). Some arrest warrants are issued for failure to appear in court for excessive parking tickets. But, plenty of warrants are issued for more serious pending charges.

Either way, it’s wise to avoid people with active arrest warrants. If the criminal records search comes back clean, but you want to double-check, you can run an arrest warrants search to be sure.

Halloween Safety: Do an arrest warrants search if you want to be absolutely sure.

Again, the arrest warrants search is not free. But, the data is dependable. However, in most cases, the criminal search results will be enough for proper Halloween safety.

Target your searches

Since it costs a couple of bucks to check an address, it’s not financially reasonable to check every house in your area. You don’t need to, anyway.

Nextdoor has a tool for identifying houses in your neighborhood that will have candy for Trick-or-Treaters. Use the Nextdoor.com treat map to establish your Trick-or-Treating route. That way you can limit your searches to the houses you’re going to visit.

This will make searching your Trick-or-Treat route more cost and time-efficient thereby maximizing your kids treat per hour or if you’re making a game out of it, treats per steps. How many steps, how many treats?

That’s it. With a few minutes of online searching, you can build a Trick-or-Treating route that you know is safe. That way you can focus on the other Halloween safety issues like traffic, costume malfunctions, and sugar overload.

Have fun Trick-or-Treating safely!



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