Volunteers protect Peoria county on Halloween night

By Beau Ebenezer

November 1, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 10:05 AM CDT

BARTONVILLE, Ill. -- While many children dressed up as their favorite comic book superhero Thursday night, there were some real life heroes watching over the young trick or treaters for the third year in a row.

Volunteer John Coker has operated amateur radios for most of his life but on Halloween night he and about 14 other volunteers used that skill to increase safety for various residents throughout Peoria County.

"We are looking for mischief that might result in someone getting hurt or cause some damage to property," said Coker. "Actually, we will be just very obvious and we will probably deter some things like that."

They are all volunteers with the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES).

They covered 22 different locations in Peoria County, radioing in any suspicious activity to the Sheriff's Office.

"We have a couple schools that we are monitoring," said ARES volunteer Fritz Bock. "Obviously when the trick or treaters go home that could be an issue having an unoccupied building. If the trick or treaters are out, obviously, we are going to look out for them at the same time."

Coker patrolled school zones along with areas prone to vandalism.

Volunteers said over-passes, like the one over Interstate 474, are typical spots for mischief.

They park their vans on top in order to prevent anyone from throwing things onto the Interstate.

According to authorities, the volunteer help has worked well so far.

"It at least gives us the opportunity to find out more or catch more of the vandalism going on," said Lieutenant Ed Fischer.

The Sheriff's Office said over the past three years very few calls have come in.

The volunteers hope that's because of their large presence.

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