When ghost hunters cross the line

I just read this news story from the US about some teenagers who were caught trespassing in a Hubbard Park in Connecticut which is near the former Undercliff Sanatorium for children. They were found by police, and the group of “amateur ghost hunters” set off on foot to try and escape the police. Instead, they fell off of a cliff and became trapped at the bottom, seriously injured.

It really annoys me when I hear stories like this, as this sort of behaviour gives “ghost hunters” or paranormal researchers a really bad name. I know of groups here in the UK who trespass on private land to get their fill of ghostly thrills in the dark and there are two major problems with this sort of selfish and destructive behaviour.

1) It is dangerous.

There are horror stories of people who have gone “ghost hunting” being really hurt. The story I linked to above is a good example, and another would be the girl from Toronto who fell from a roof to her death in 2009, or the girl in Ohio who was shot in 2006 when she trespassed on somebodies land because it was supposed to be haunted.

I honestly do not understand how the need to get scared or spooked in a haunted park or building can be greater than the need to be safe. Is it really worth putting yourself and other people at risk by placing yourself in dangerous positions, in locations that you shouldn’t be in the first place?

Not in my opinion.

2) It is unlawful

To enter property that doesn’t belong to you, or that is closed off to the public (derelict buildings, graveyards that have visiting curfews etc.) is classed as trespass to land. The term ‘trespass to land’ refers to the “wrongful interference with one’s possessory rights in property”. While most trespasses to land are intentional, British courts have held liability holds for trespass committed negligently – but if you were to intentionally enter a location to look for ghosts, that’s not tresspass through negligence.

Several locations are aware of the fact that people trespass on their land to “ghost hunt” and it causes bitter relationships between those locations and all paranormal researchers.

I recall my co-founder being told to ‘fuck off!’ when phoning one location to enquire about the apparent haunting because of the trouble that location had experienced with unruly “ghost hunters” in the past.

I will never understand how people who hunt for ghosts and go thrill seeking in haunted places without the owners permission can justify doing so. It isn’t that hard to gain entry to locations with permission, and if a location says no then people should just deal with it.

It isn’t difficult to research paranormal phenomena while staying safe and within the law. You just have to be able to control yourself and know your limits and it’s a shame that so many people don’t.

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

5 thoughts on “When ghost hunters cross the line”

  1. By British I suspect you mean English and Welsh courts (probably NI as well in fairness).

    I don’t think Scotland technically has a trespass law…

  2. Properly organised teams should have no need to tresspass and properly run teams will carry public liability insurance in case god forbid something does go awry. Asking for permission politely and in a courteous manner will usually yield the right response. Anyone allowing a team onto their property should always ask that team if they have PLI if they don’t then politely show them the door.

  3. I would have thought that most ‘ghost hunters’ would be invited to go along and ‘investigate’. If you’re not invited into someone’s home you shouldn’t break in. Also there could be a major downside into inviting these idiots into your property. If one makes some money or cashe because of a haunted theme- then you could lose that panache as they won’t find anything. As far as I am aware there has never been any positive evidence of ghosts and spirits and I guess there probably never will be any.

  4. Yes, but the other half of people who give a certain group a bad name is the media’s tendency to focus on those individuals. They’re in every group, but they’re more often heard about in certain ones.

  5. Just came across this entry. Very true and one of the reasons most groups require members to be 18+. Of course this doesn’t stop young wannabes from trespassing and ultimately hurting the field of paranormal investigations and themselvesin the process.

    Our group for example has several forms and waivers we must sign before we even go on an investigation. From injury waiver to property damage forms.

    Great post by the way!

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