For years, the police, the administration and county officials have targeted out-of-town visitors as the prime source of Isla Vista’s annual Halloween crime sprees. But for them, a possibility looms that is scarier than the ghosts and goblins of this fright-filled holiday – the realization that it was us all along.

Thanks to a new set of precautions county and university authorities are imposing on Isla Vista to prevent out-of-towners from crashing our famous fiesta of near-naked women, guys in genitalia costumes and 24/7 drunken madness, that scarily masked guy trying to grab your ass will most likely be a local.

With parking for nonresidents impossibly scarce, law enforcement in overabundance, possible barricades at I.V. entrances and all the other hoops a person has to jump through just to get into Isla Vista in the first place, many an out-of-towner just might find themselves driving the hundreds of miles to our beachside town of sun, sand and sin, only to have to turn around and drive right on back.

And hey, we’re not complaining. But that just leaves a whole lot of boozed-up, law-breaking UCSB students and I.V. locals wide open for a team of control-hungry law enforcement officers with handcuffs in tow to swoop in upon like greedy hawks.

Without our usual slew of out-of-town filth mucking up the streets with their ignorance-driven, illegal antics, who’s going to distract the IVFP from the fact that we’re breaking the law, too? With these unfamiliar partiers unusually absent from the equation, this year will prove once and for all whether the out-of-towners we loathe so much were indeed the problem or have merely been our scapegoats.

Don’t be surprised if you catch more familiar faces than usual this Halloween – the county’s precautions will most likely force us to keep the partying in the family.

But if Santa Barbara County Jail happens to be filled with underage drinkers, drug dealers and violent criminals who happen to be simultaneously pursuing college degrees right on our very own campus, we wouldn’t be surprised – and in the wake of two UCSB Nobel laureates, publicity waves and numerous attempts at cleaning up the university’s dirty reputation, that’d be one scary shame.