National

Viral articles claim trick-or-treating over the age of 12 in these towns could land you in jail

(WAVY) - The internet and other news outlets have taken a sudden interest in Hampton Roads' trick-or-treating laws thanks to an article posted to our lifestyle website, hrScene.com.

The article is updated on the website every year around Halloween with a list of trick-or-treating times, laws and guidelines for each city in the Hampton Roads region for citizens to use a guide. Within a couple days, it received over 20,000 views. 

The city ordinances regarding trick-or-treating do not change regularly. However, some of the punishments listed for trick-or-treating over a certain age in cities like Chesapeake, Newport News and Norfolk have people fired up.

While we can't pinpoint exactly how it started, it appears that a few personal blogs came across the list of city laws on hrScene and became outraged. Local television stations across the country, including some of our sister stations, began to post about the laws, attributing hrScene.com.  

Then came larger media outlets Buzzfeed  and Megyn Kelly TODAY. 

 

 

Now, some local law enforcement agencies are responding to the nationwide scrutiny of their trick-or-treating laws. 

The Norfolk Police Department tweeted about the viral stories Wednesday night. Their tweet says "#NorfolkPD has been made aware of some media outlets implying that officers will arrest children who are Trick-or-Treating. This scary story is based on an old law." 

On Thursday, the City of Chesapeake released a statement regarding the old ordinance's new interest:

The City of Chesapeake’s Ordinance related to trick or treating on Halloween is more than 45 years old. In that time, no one has been arrested or charged with any crime under this Ordinance. Chesapeake Police officers will not impede persons who are clearly over the age of 12 from trick or treating, provided that they are doing so in an otherwise lawful, safe, and secure manner. For example, a teenager trick or treating with siblings or friends will be fine. If that same teenager were found to be stealing pumpkins from porches and smashing them in the street, that would be a different matter and action would be taken. The Ordinance, which mirrors that of the other Hampton Roads cities and many communities around the country, was and is intended to promote a safe, secure, fun experience for all.

An online petition with a goal of 10,000 supporters was started on Care2 Petitions, calling on the City of Chesapeake to change the trick-or-treating ordinance.


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