Columbus police give safety tips ahead of Halloween to keep kids away from predators

Columbus police give safety tips ahead of Halloween to keep kids away from predators

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Unfortunately, at this is the time of year, predators try and take advantage of children when trick-or-treating.

The biggest thing police want parents to do is to be with them as they go door-to-door.

Halloween is a time to dress as your favorite characters and fill your pumpkins up with candy, but it’s also a time to keep a close eye on your children as they go trick-or-treating.

Captain Joyce Dent Fitzpatrick with the Columbus Police Department said to look out for homes that are not well lit and never go inside someone’s home for candy.

“Even if you’re in a group and they say, ‘hey you all can come into the kitchen and get some candy out of a bowl’ or something like that, you should always turn away from those houses. Do not go into anyone’s residence that you do not know,” said Dent’ Fitzpatrick.

“Unfortunately, the world has gotten a little more dangerous, especially for our children, and so we tend to take ours only to like church fall festivals or to homes of people we know,” said one parent, Deena Johnston.

The recent kidnapping and murder of a 3-year-old girl in Birmingham is a tragic reminder of how quickly a child can be abducted. Many parents said it’s even more reason to be more watchful, especially on Halloween.

“That case is just incredibly sad. It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved and even those of us who aren’t involved because we all care about our little children,” said Johnston.

“It just made me so sad. I started crying. I was so upset about it,” said Pamela Werner, a parent.

Dent Fitzpatrick said parents should check all candy to be sure it hasn’t been tampered with and talked about some things to look for.

"Razor blades, unwrapped candy, things protruding out of the wrappers. If you have something that’s a hard candy and you see a substance on it like powder or dust, I would not eat that, said Dent Fitzpatrick.

She said some predators will dress up as a happy character to lure vulnerable kids in with candy and it’s important to teach your kids about what to do if they are approached by a stranger.

“It’s very important to talk to your kids and let them know not everybody who’s coming to you with some candy is a friendly person that you should be taking stuff from. Make your kids aware that there are bad people out there,” said parent Samantha Vigliaturo.

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