Police watch out for Gainesville's trick-or-treaters

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 11:09 p.m.
Besides the usual Halloween fears of razor blades in candy, police were looking out Thursday night for another possible danger to children: sex offenders.
So many children ringing the door bell of the 150 sex offenders in Gainesville could present a temptation to some sex offenders, said Gainesville Police Detective Duane Diehl. Police contacted 48 of them to make sure they weren't violating any laws.
Police paired up with probation officers from the Department of Corrections and searched some of the homes, Diehl said. There were no violations and no arrests.
Only one of the sex offenders police contacted was giving out candy, Diehl said. That one, in northwest Gainesville, had his house decorated and his lights on Thursday night.
The man wasn't violating the law, Diehl said. But when police asked him if it was a good idea for him to be in contact with so many children, the man agreed to turn off his lights and stop handing out candy.
Police also talked to a group of children who had just trick-or-treated at the man's house.
"They had no idea they had just visited a sex offender's home," Diehl said.
Police may do the same special detail next Halloween, Diehl said, adding that anyone who wants to find out if there is a sex offender in their neighborhood can look on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Web site at: www.fdle.state.fl.us/ and then click on the "Sexual Predators" link in the right-side margin.
Also Thursday, Alachua County sheriff's officials investigated reports of teenagers robbing a group of trick-or-treaters of their candy and wrestling one to the ground in Haile Plantation.
Three or four teenagers in a green Suburban drove up to the trick-or-treaters in the 9300 block of SW 38th Lane, Alachua County Sheriff's Lt. Jim Troiano said. They tried to get one girl's phone number and then offered to buy the group's candy for $20. When the group refused the offer, a couple of the teens got out of the Suburban, took two bags of candy and wrestled one of the trick-or-treaters to the ground, Troiano said. Nobody was hurt, he added.
There also were a couple of complaints of people speeding and throwing eggs at cars, but other than that, Halloween was fairly quiet, Troiano said.
"So far we're real pleased," Troiano said. "Halloween has been very successful."

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