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Parents, police disagree on need for laws protecting trick-or-treaters from sex offenders

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-30 19:53:45-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- At least a dozen states have laws requiring registered sex offenders to leave their lights on for Halloween and post a sign that says “no candy”, and many parents who spoke with FOX 13 News said they would like to see similar laws enacted in Utah.

"I wouldn't want my kids or my grandkids knocking on a sex offender’s door because I wouldn't want to even take a small chance," said Cynthia Kesselring of Sandy.

Some parents believe a lack of laws could make helpless trick-or-treaters fall prey to real monsters on Halloween night.

"I want to protect my child,” said Kristin Baird of Millcreek. “I don't think you can be too cautious when it comes to your kid and when it comes to things like that."

But West Valley City Police Department officials said parents shouldn't necessarily be concerned.

"It's pretty much like any other day,” Det. Christopher Smith said. “If anything, I would dare say that it's actually safer because people who would commit those types of crimes realize that there are going to be people out, but they will be in large groups, lots of parents and you will see an increase in police presence.”

Smith also points out that it's uncommon for a child to be sexually attacked by a stranger, on Halloween or any other day of the year

"The majority of sex crimes occur among family members or those that are very close to that family,” Smith said. “And so, strangers actually preying on children, the numbers for that are actually quite low.”

Smith believes it would be unnecessary for Utah to enact laws to restrict registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween festivities.

"People don't really have all that much to worry about on Halloween,” he said. “As long as you remember to supervise and remember the buddy system, which is what I preach at my home and to my kids, I don't stress about Halloween.”

Information regarding the location of registered sex offenders in Utah is available here.