Devil’s Night in Detroit (aka elsewhere as Doorbell Night, Trick Night, Mischief Night, Beggar’s Night, Tick-Tack Night, and Goosey Night) occurs on October 30, the night before Halloween. It dates back to at least the 1940s, and can probably be traced back to mid-1880’s Ireland, where the night of mischief was originally attributed to fairies and goblins. Traditionally, city youths engaged in a night of mischievous or petty criminal behavior, usually consisting of minor pranks or acts of mild vandalism (ringing doorbells, soaping windows, egging cars).

By the early 1970s in Detroit, the vandalism escalated to more destructive acts, including arson. This mostly took place in the inner city, but surrounding suburbs were often affected as well. The destruction reached a peak in the mid- to late-1980s, with more than 800 fires set in 1984, and numbers reaching into the hundreds for each subsequent year until 2011.