Each fall, as the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, stores become filled with pumpkins, candy, and costumes. We all know that October heralds Halloween, the one night where everyone dresses up and kids go door to door asking for candy with the classic line, “Trick or treat!” It has become a beloved tradition; for about 100 years, the practice of trick-or-treating has become increasingly popular.
Trick-or-Treating actually dates back to medieval times. Before Christianity took over Europe, the Celts celebrated Samhain, which signaled the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter, as well as a night where the dead returned to Earth. To appease the spirits of the deceased, offerings of food, drink, and other items were left at people’s doorsteps to pay homage. If anyone left their home on this evening, they often wore costumes and masks to trick the evil spirits into thinking they were one of them. Eventually this evolved into costumed people performing prayers, tricks, and antics at doorsteps in exchange for treats, money, and food.
When the Catholic Church swept through Europe, they attempted to replace Samhain with All Saints’ Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd, with All Hallows Eve on October 31st. Then this name evolved into “Hallowe’en”.
Of course – although kids and parents try to keep the practice of trick-or-treating local, around familiar neighbourhoods – the practice of going door-to-door asking for candy means the possibility of something going wrong is always present. Here are some stories of trick-or-treaters who had a hard time on Halloween getting treats and ended up with more tricks instead.
14. No Candy For the Obese – 2013
Last year a woman in Fargo, North Dakota famously took it upon herself to distribute letters to the parents of children who she thought were moderately obese, instead of giving out candy to them. Nothing gets you in the spirit of Halloween more than a letter telling you that your child is fat. The woman only identified herself as “Cheryl” and took to the press to announce her plans before the holiday even happened. Her unconventional community service was likely to guarantee a front door egged by children AND parents.
13. Prank Gone Wrong – 2013
During Halloween of 2013, YouTube comedian Ken Spooner wanted to play a prank on the local trick or treaters. So, he dressed himself up as a skeleton-type monster – apparently a static Halloween decoration – and sat on his porch with a bowl of goodies (mainly chips). His first set of trick-or-treaters were two little girls with their mother. With a camera strapped to his head, we can see that as soon as he moved, the two little girls are in hysterics. Needless to say, the rest of the video consists of Ken and the mother apologizing to each other and handing treats to the little girls to console them.
12. Halloween Flasher – 2013
John Vowels made Halloween of 2013 quite memorable for Deltona, Florida when he was answering the door wearing an open robe with nothing underneath. Of course, Vowels got “exposed” for his actions: When two teenage boys were warned not to go to Vowels’ house because there was a naked man inside, they investigated. It turned out the rumors were right, so they ran back home to tell their father, who then called the cops. When the cops arrived at the house, the same thing happened to them. Woops.
11. Teen Trick-Or-Treater Killed – 2013
A 14-year old trick-or-treater was killed in 2013 from his injuries when he was struck by an SUV driver. According to police, the teen, named Jordan Steinmetz was wearing dark clothing with nothing reflective on a street with no lights, which led to him being struck. Controversy arose when it was reported that the driver would not face any criminal charges except for driving without updated information.
10. Trick-Or-Hit – 2012
A grim reminder to look both ways before crossing a street, a north Houston neighborhood was devastated in 2012 when two kids were hit while crossing the road. They ran ahead of their attending adults and the young boy was the first to get hit while a young girl was hit immediately after. Neighbors reportedly detained the driver until police arrived, and it was also reported that there was candy scattered around the road.
9. Trick-Or…Cocaine? – 2012
Over in Oldham, England, there are unfortunate trick-or-treat shenanigans as well. In 2012, a young man by the name of Donald Junior Green was arrested for accidentally handing out cocaine packets to kids. Three young trick-or-treaters ages five, six, and eight, knocked on Green’s door. Unprepared for the visit, Green dug into his pockets for the Haribo candies he had and ended up dropping packets of coke.
The trick-or-treaters were the children of an off-duty police officer, and once the error was discovered, Green found himself arrested.
8. Armed Trick-Or-Treaters – 2012
In 2012, a neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington was terrorized by a group of teens aged 13 to 17 wearing blue bandanas and holding a loaded .22 caliber handgun. Between 8pm and 9:30pm, the teens were robbing groups and taking everything from jewelry to watches to wallets, and even – bizarrely – candy.
Thanks to a police dog, all six of the group members were arrested and the stolen items were recovered along with several masks.
7. Trick-Or-DUI – 2012
In 2012, a mother by the name of Amber Haaser was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after police saw that her car was stopped in the middle of the road amongst trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Her young child actually made the 911 call, which is probably the saddest part. Haaser was taken to the police station in Vernon, Connecticut and was held on a $5,000 surety bond.
6. Stolen Halloween Candy – 2011
In 2011, five teens from Dale City, Virginia (about 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.) were arrested and charged with robbery and assault by a mob. What were these kids stealing? Halloween candy.
The five teens, age 15-19 approached two trick-or-treaters and demanded that they hand over their candy. The treaters were even threatened with a handgun, but they wouldn’t hand it over. The teens attacked the two treaters, and were later arrested. All for candy.
5. Trick-Or-Robbers – 2009
In East Orange, New Jersey, 2009 was a rough Halloween for three robbers who posed as trick-or-treaters. A 60-year old victim opened the door to find a handgun in his face and demands to enter the house.
It is speculated that police were called by a neighbor while the three robbers rummaged through the house. When the police arrived, they were able to catch two of the robbers trying to escape through the back and the third robber was found with the victim in the basement.
4. Knife Or Treat? – 2009
In Ocean City, New Jersey, trick-or-treaters were terrified in 2009 when a neighbor was handing out something sharper than candy. Michael J. Mandzuick was arrested for throwing a knife down at the feet of several young trick-or-treaters and appeared to be intoxicated.
When asked why he committed the crime, he said that he only wanted to scare the children.
3. Stealing Free Candy – 2006
It’s quite possible to get arrested for stealing free stuff. Just ask the two young men who were arrested in 2006 for stealing Halloween candy in Salt Lake City, Utah.
They were wearing a Freddy Krueger and a Scream mask when they drove up to a house, pushed the woman down who was handing out candy, and sped away with the treats. Someone took down the license plate of the car, and one of the suspects was arrested soon after.
2. P*rn-O-Treat – 2004
If you were a trick-or-treater who went to the home of Andrew McClure Johnson in 2004 in Boulder, Colorado, you might have gotten more than you bargained for.
Two 13-year old boys went to Johnson’s house on a routine Halloween candy round when Johnson asked if they had a DVD player. After saying yes, Johnson dropped a porno in each bag. The boys feared they would get in trouble, so they smashed the discs, and one reported the incident to his grandmother, who called police.
1. Trick-Or-Treaters Shot With BB Gun – 1990
Back in 1990, BB guns were trendy among teenagers in Los Angeles County, which might be why two teenagers were arrested after shooting their BB guns at young trick-or-treaters.
Unsurprisingly, they caused minor injuries to two other teens. Not only did the offending teens have a gun, but they were also carrying a set of nunchakus, which is a martial arts weapon.