Ditch this game

The ring-and-run prank can get ‘players’ in trouble

Mantua Township police have been on the lookout for two males who took an old
and familiar prank too far.

Ding-dong-ditch – also known as knock-down ginger or knock-a-door – has long been played for laughs around the country: See how fast you can run away after ringing someone’s doorbell, then delight in their surprised reaction.

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Ha-ha right? Actually, no. In the Mantua case, one suspect hit a homeowner’s door so hard, it sounded like a break-in, according to reporting in “The Sun.”

Other instances around the nation – many in the middle of the night – have left residents shaken.

Yet wikiHow to do anything – a Wikipedia-style information site – notes that the game/prank can be a “fun way” to spend an evening. Really? Because it then warns that ding-dong-ditch can get you in trouble if a victim doesn’t find it amusing. The site advises participants to prey on someone they know well, or whom “you are 100% sure will respond positively.”

And how can you guarantee that? It’s doubtful the players in this game are so discerning.

What may be 100% sure is that ding-dong ditch can be dangerous. A California man was convicted in April of murdering three of six teens who played the doorbell prank on him in 2020, according to “USA Today.” He followed the pranksters in his car and rammed it, causing it to crash into a tree. Three of the teens died.

While not illegal in and of itself, ding-dong-ditch involves trespassing on someone else’s property, according to Yahoo, and that is against the law. A Mississippi statute, for instance, can get a prankster charged with a misdemeanor and fined $500. Jail time is not out of the question.

In New Jersey, the prank can be considered harassment, also a misdemeanor. And if the result is bodily harm or property damage, there could be more charges, including a felony.

Despite all this, wikiHow to do anything has “tips” for players: Gather a crew and pick a mutual friend as a target, choose a time to ring the bell when said target will be home and awake, and ring the doorbell or knock before seeing the reaction.

Oh, and one more thing, the site advises: For added effect, hit the same house two to three times to really rile your subjects.

Mantua police are not taking the subject so lightly. They have issued photos of their ding-dong-ditch suspects, both white males who struck in Wenonah and the Sewell section of Mantua on July 20. One wore a one-piece hoodie; the other, a ski mask. One carried what appeared to be a rock, police noted.

That suggests they weren’t pranking just for the fun of it. There has yet to be an arrest, and police are asking anyone with information on the incidents to email Jbair@mantuatownship.com.

Meanwhile, if you must prank, Yahoo suggests avoiding trouble by not damaging property, not pranking anyone who might be easily scared or upset – such as the elderly or infirm – and getting permission from the person(s) you want to trick.

Uh-huh. May we suggest you try hide and seek instead?


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