Officials: Pranks are escalating

Published 3:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

Houses and lawns covered in toilet paper, like this one on Second Avenue, are a common example of the types of pranks seen around town, officials said.

Houses and lawns covered in toilet paper, like this one on Second Avenue, are a common example of the types of pranks seen around town, officials said.

Reports from concerned residents say traditional pranks such as “rolling houses” are in danger of escalating into cases of serious vandalism.

Perry Brown, worship pastor at Transformation Church, said he saw five mailboxes beaten or knocked down in the area of Park Street and Second Avenue on Wednesday, including the church’s mailbox.

Officials have said that the beginning of high school homecoming season can lead to an escalation of pranks across the county. Charles Henderson High School is holding its homecoming game this weekend, and Pike Liberal Arts and Zion Chapel are both scheduled to have theirs later this month. Pike County High School and Goshen are scheduled for October.

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At CHHS, officials are taking a proactive approach to discouraging pranks, such as covering residences in toilet paper. “Basically what I’ve told the entire school is that we have to stay focused on schoolwork,” said Brock Kelley, CHHS principal. “We’re going to have fun on homecoming week, but they need to be respectful to everyone in the community and be careful in what they do. I told them to think about every decision they make beforehand, whether they’re inside of school or outside.”

Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarborough said that the escalation of pranks to vandalism in recent years has caused concern. Scarborough said her son’s truck was once egged while he was away at a baseball game and the prank went unnoticed for several days. The time left in the sun led to extensive paint damage.

“It’s one thing when it’s fun and games, but when you start causing damage to property, that’s when you’re crossing the line,” Scarborough said. “I would imagine that you could be charged criminally if it was found out who you were, especially if the property owner was out money. You’re looking at getting yourself or your parents sued.”

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr warned that what might be meant as “all in good fun” could lead to misdemeanor charges and potentially even felonies if enough damage is done to property.

“These kids need to be aware that they could be charged with criminal trespass, and should they inflict permanent damage, they could be charged with criminal mischief,” Barr said. “The extent of damage would determine the degree of criminal mischief. If the dollar amount reached high enough, it could be a felony. We understand that this is supposed to be all in good fun, but there’s a certain responsibility that goes with that.”

Barr said only one report has been filed concerning vandalism in recent days. The report concerned a vehicle that was spray-painted.

Barr added that it is third-degree criminal mischief to trespass on someone’s lawn, but second-degree trespass if a person enters a fenced-in area.

Criminal mischief in the first degree is a Class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison. It is defined as intentionally inflicting property damages exceeding $2,500 or property damage by means of an explosion.