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Ghost Hunting 101: How to Avoid Getting Arrested

Updated on November 3, 2013

Ghost hunting is an interesting, intriguing, enjoyable experience that can expand our understanding of the paranormal realm. Exploring haunted locales and dark cemeteries as dusk falls, then turns into pitch black night, is a serious adrenaline rush; and when you return home, review the photographs and audio recordings, and discover that you have caught an image or a voice that is unexplainable? The feeling of satisfaction is unbelievable. Traversing ancient graveyards and historic, abandoned buildings can be a great, scientific thrill -- until you get arrested.

This is perhaps the number one rule of ghost hunting that beginners must keep in mind: don't give other ghost hunters a bad name. It is very easy to not get caught. Respect your surroundings, be conscientious of "No Trespassing" signs, and pay attention to what time the place closes. It is important that ghost hunters as a collective put out the message to law enforcement that we are just there to observe (the same message we try to send to any spirits who may be lurking around the places we investigate.) We don't want to graffiti the walls or destroy historic monuments or trample on the flowerbeds, we just want to look around.

Almost all parks, battlefields and cemeteries, unless they are located on private property on the homeowner's land, are open to the public, usually from dawn until dusk. If you want to go during this time frame, you do not have to ask permission to investigate these places. However, if you see the caretaker on your way into the cemetery, take the time to introduce yourselves, let him know who you are and that you're just going to have a look around. You'd be surprised how open-minded most people are these days, and nine times out of ten, the caretaker will be able to give you some background on the place. He might even be able to point out some interesting graves, or places where apparitions have been spotted. Some ghost hunters choose to call the local police station just to let them know ahead of time that someone will be in the graveyard behind the school. I personally don't find this necessary because I don‘t like to call unnecessary attention to myself, but that's totally up to you.

If you want to investigate a cemetery at night, on the other hand, you have two options: 1.) ask for permission ahead of time. Call the main office for the cemetery or go there during the day to speak with the caretaker, let him know your intentions, and see if they make any special exceptions for group investigations. If not, then your only other choice is 2.) sneak in anyway and risk getting the cops called on you for trespassing.

Historic buildings are a whole different story. These places are preserved by the National Historic Society and carefully guarded, which is a good thing. Nearly all of them offer public tours, however, where you will be led around the premises by a tour guide. Although these tours are incredibly informative, the constant chattering of the guide makes it impossible to record EVPs, and some places forbid photography. This is one instance when it becomes beneficial to be part of a group and/or have a lot of money to devote to your ghost hunting. A lot of historic places, like Eastern State Penetentiary for example, will allow groups to enter for an overnight, lights out investigation -- for a fee, of course. If you're interested in this option, give yourself plenty of time in advance to research the location and make arrangements. Eastern State closes down during the winter because it is not equipped with working heat, so all midnight tours or explorations must be scheduled in the summer, spring or fall.

Last but not least, if the cops do arrive, make sure you have a picture I.D. on you to show who you are. And for the love of all that is holy, don't get into a spiritual debate or legal argument with the officers. If they ask you to leave, just go. Law enforcement doesn't care if ghost hunters are at the forefront of the quest for knowledge from another realm. Don't attempt to make them understand that even though the sign CLEARLY says "no trespassing", you CLEARLY aren't doing anything wrong. Because, clearly, you are. You're better off just avoiding the drama by following these guidelines, being aware of any time constraints, and being courteous of your surroundings.


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    • profile image

      Tasha Randall 

      8 years ago

      O.o a ghost hunters videos yeah i wont be watching that. however this is great information my team is booking up for a summer scheduled Cemetery night time quest. lol but we were wondering if in Idaho is it illegal to do that but i think as long as i have permission from the Cemetery owner of the cemetery i would gladly invite a police officer haha but i doubt that would happen. lol i love this this is great advice if anyone wants to check out our web page feel free too here is the link :

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i like your advice. I got worried about taking my team out to a cemetery that ive been there 3 times by myself. Its been adopted and ive tried to contact the lady, but she's never answered me. Ive been ghost hunting since i was 13 when i had my first experience. My team is GAPI. Georgia paranormal investigations. My website is i love the paranormal and your advice has taken a lot of stress off. Thank you

    • profile image

      jen garcia 

      11 years ago

      Our group went to a cemetery early last night, that we have been to before. There were no signs posted for hours or tresspassing , gates are open all night. A security guard drove past us but said nothing even though it was getting dark. we were about 30 minutes in , taking pics, evp, etc. when two security guards pulled up and blocked our vehicles. One security guard ( the one who had driven past us earlier ) called us to come over to him and i was the first to head over. As i came about 20 feet from him, he pulled out a 9mm gun! A few seconds later, he put it away. When we got to him he said we were not allowed to be there, Day or Night! We said there were no signs posted, he said that he was the sign. He made us hand over our ID's and they took our info. then handed our ID's back and waited till we left. At least the night wasn't a total bust, I did get a few evp's and we all went to coco's for dinner! = ) So, Even if there are no signs posted, please be careful....

    • profile image 

      11 years ago


      Thanks for getting the good advice out there!!

      Best Regards,

      Pamela J.

    • Veronica profile image


      12 years ago from NY

      Great advice, especially with dealing with the police. Smart to just behave yourself and go if they say to.

      I was just thinking about you: I watched the rerun of Paranormal State last night on A&E.

      Hey, thanks for the nod to me on the newsletter, I really appreciate it!

    • Brandy Owens profile image

      Brandy Owens 

      12 years ago from Wherever life takes me

      Wow, that's pretty awesome. I've only once gotten anything on EVP (though I don't try very often), and that was a woman singing. There was, needless to say, no woman that could be seen. :)

      I've been into the paranormal for about as long as I can remember as well. There were things that happened when I was an infant and a small child that my mom's told me about (such as following something with my eyes and continuing to ask, "What's that?" and pictures and such) and just a general acknowledgement, though there was a time back when I was around 11 that I denied it. XD Most of my experience is because I'm what people have referred to as a "magnet" (something about me seems to attract the paranormal, though I have no idea what), and I don't think I've ever lived anywhere that didn't have some activity.

      I'm interested in paranormal investigation but don't have the means... yet. :)

      I agree. You also seem very level-headed, which is definitely good. There are too many crazies when it comes to the paranormal and other matters of the occult. :)

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from N.J.

      Hey Brandy -- Thank you so much for the positive comments you've been leaving. Most people who are into ghost hunting are kind of freaky, so it's nice to encounter someone level headed for once :) God, I've been into the paranormal for as long as I can remember. My mother is incredibly open-minded so even as a child she was always telling me stories and theories, we used to explore old cemeteries when I was as young as five. Then in 2003, her and my younger sister were at my mom's friend Eva's house taking pics and messing around with a tape recorder b/c since her son was born, Eva was constantly feeling sensitive to a presence in her bedroom in the attic. The baby was maybe 3 months old at this point, and my sister was showing him the tape recorder to entertain him and she said to Alex, "Say something...say something...say 'hello'...say 'hello'" etc. and when they reviewed the tape later, not expecting anything to be there, a child's voice comes through clear as day and says, "Hello." I guess it goes without saying that it wasn't 3-month old Alex who said it. My mom was hooked after that, but I wanted to experience this EVP phenomenon for myself, so we started going to old graveyards in our town and BAM! one EVP after another, after another, after another. We haven't stopped ghost hunting because we haven't stopped collecting evidence. Nearly every time we got out we get something substantial.

      We actually have a website full of our EVPs if you're interested --

      What about you? Are you into the paranormal? How did you get started?

    • Brandy Owens profile image

      Brandy Owens 

      12 years ago from Wherever life takes me

      These are some great tips, and completely true. It's pretty cool to read something by someone who obviously knows what they're talking about in this field; if you don't mind me asking, how long have you been into the paranormal and investigating it? :)

    • robinmorrow profile image


      12 years ago from Liberty Lake

      Thanks for the great tips. A friend of mine was actually stopped for entering a cemetery in the middle of the day. All she was doing there was taking digital images in hopes of capturing a spirit image. Because the cemetery was NOT on private land, she had a total right to be there, but the cemetery guard really bullied her into leaving. It's really important for people to know their rights - - and equally important (IMHO) for people to know which battle isn't worty fighting!


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