For the 17th year, Towson Area Citizens on Patrol will increase its volunteer patrol efforts throughout Towson in hopes of deterring vandalism, destruction of property and general mischievous activity that members say is prevalent on the night before Halloween.
The neighborhood watch group works in partnership with the Baltimore County Police to patrol Towson neighborhoods and report suspicious activity.
The night before Halloween — which is known as “Mischief Night” or “Movement Night” in the Mid-Atlantic region — often brings out pranksters and troublemakers, according to TACOP vice president Pat France.
“We have decreased all this mischief quite a bit in the past 16 years,” France added.
This year, the group’s “mischief prevention patrols” will be out in force to discourage egg throwing, wrapping trees and porches with rolls of toilet paper and other acts of vandalism, France said.
Volunteers will gather at the Baltimore County Police Department’s Hillendale Resource Center at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 for a briefing from an officer and light refreshments before heading out on neighborhood patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles, on bicycles and on foot at 7 p.m. The patrols are open to the public and the group encourages volunteers to take part in them.
“It’s a problem everywhere in Baltimore [County], but we in Towson are lucky to have a Citizens On Patrol program, where 25 of our neighborhoods patrol to deter crime,” France said.
When the group first organized in 2000, mischief making and vandalism was a much bigger problem in Towson on the night preceding Halloween, said France, who is originally from the Philadelphia area.
But after many year’s of the volunteer group’s patrols, the number of incidents seems to have declined, France said.
Baltimore County Police officials said the department does not normally track incidents of vandalism or destruction of property on the night before Halloween.
Capt. Jan Brown, commander of Towson’s Precinct 6, said minor incidents are often not reported until days later, if at all.
“When I moved here in 1977, I found people didn’t know what Mischief Night was, but they knew what Moving Night was,” France said. “It’s almost the same...there are always kids that want to get into some mischief.”
The group worked with grocery stores to prevent the sale of large quantities of eggs to teens on the night before Halloween. Having a presence throughout neighborhoods also seems to have worked, France said.
Volunteer patrol members are asked to bring new or gently used hats, gloves, scarves and peanut butter packaged in anything but glass jars to donate to the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County, which provides services to families experiencing conflict and violence.