Vandalism Is Not Ghost Hunting
As ghost hunting grows in popularity, the number of people setting out in the middle of the night to catch a glimpse of the paranormal grows daily, or perhaps we should say nightly. While this may be a commercial boon for some business owners, some owners of haunted sites are finding the interest in their property more of a curse than a blessing. Many are trespassing on private property, and in some cases breaking into and vandalizing these properties.
The Rock House in Georgia was plagued by such late night visits, and owners were forced to employ 24 hour security. When the Stanley Mill in Ohio was listed as a haunted location on a website, the owners claimed they had to spend thousands on security measures to keep the curious away. They eventually won a $125,000 lawsuit against the website owners and the site was forced to take all information on the mill down. In 2008, 6 Texas youths; Jorge Montoya, 17, Gerardo Santoyo, 18, Felipe Ochoa, 23, Carmen Salazar, 17, Rene Nunez, 21, and John Carrillo, 20 were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing when they broke into Magic Landing Amusement Park, where they were allegedly ghost hunting. Earlier that year, the park was the subject of arson and suffered nearly $500,000 worth of damage. It is unclear whether the two events are related.
In Salem, Massachusetts, a group of three "ghost hunters" broke into an abandoned hospital in October 2005. Police in the station across the street were alerted and they were arrested, charged with trespassing on private property and fined. The abandoned Danvers State Hospital, also in Massachusetts, has suffered from vandalism and trespassing all in the supposed name of ghost hunting. Prior to the sale of the property to developers, police arrested on average of 5 people a month for trespassing.
The list goes on and on. Strawberry Chapel, a 300 year old church is plagued by vandals. The historic building has suffered over $50,000 in damages and priceless hand blown glass windows have been shattered. All across the country, old cemeteries, buildings and homes are being subject to this kind of mistreatment. Thanks to the immature and disrespectful, places such as Bachelor’s Grove, a historic cemetery in Illinois are now off-limits. A once quaint cemetery hidden in Rubio Woods Forest Preserve had been nearly destroyed by vandals. Headstones have been smashed, moved and defaced, alcohol containers and other trash littered the site, and graves have been desecrated.
While many paranormal researchers work hard to bring credibility to the field, this type of criminal behavior continues to bring a bad name to ghost hunters. Some paranormal groups are now working to restore these historic sites; however the damage has been done in more ways than one. Not only are beautiful and historic locations defaced beyond repair, but many owners of these properties are now forced to take a zero tolerance approach when it comes to paranormal researchers.
As Jason Sullivan, founder of Midwest Haunts and creator of the popular Ghost Hunting 101 series, says in his video Respecting the Paranormal. “Ask permission, and if the owner wants nothing to do with you, then I’m sorry- you need to walk away.” Great advice, Jason! And here’s one more suggestion, while you are walking away, why not stop and pick up the empty beer can littering the area and throw it away?