Tonight’s Mischief Night — the night before Halloween when, legend has it, hooligans arm themselves with toilet paper and eggs, and kids commit what police usually classify “summary offenses.”
And yep, it’s actually a thing here.
According to this Cambridge Online Survey (h/t Slate), the majority of Americans have probably never heard of such an evening, and if they have, many don’t have a name for it. But see that little teeny concentration of green in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area? That’s us. Welcome to Mischief Night.
(Seriously, New England? Cabbage Night? You throw vegetables? I want to understand.)
The Philadelphia police say they’re not planning to ramp up their patrols. But police spokeswoman Jillian Russell did allow that “officers are reminded to be more visible and alert” and that police plan to enforce curfew (10:30 p.m. for kids over 13).
Data provided by police shows there’s reason to be alert. Over the last five years, vandalism has on average increased two- or three-fold on Mischief Night compared to the night before. For instance, in 2013, there were 12 offenses on the night before October 30, and 31 on the night itself.
The rest of that data’s here (note the correlation with day of the week):
The tradition of Mischief Night dates back to 16th Century England, and immigrants continued the petty crime in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia after moving here, Francis Ryan, director of American Studies at La Salle University, told Newsworks.
The night took a seriously destructive turn in the 1980s, and in 1991, nearly 100 fires broke out in Camden. Philadelphia hasn’t seen that type of havoc, and officials aren’t expecting it this time around, either.
But still, hide your pumpkins.