Five Andover High School (AHS) students threw toilet paper rolls onto buildings and trees surrounding Rabbit Pond, including Stearns House and Stevens House late Tuesday evening.
At 10:35 p.m., Cameron Hastings ’12, Alex Schneider ’12 and Brandon Wong ’12 spotted the teenagers throwing toilet paper onto Stevens. Hastings alerted Schneider, who then called Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS).
Hastings said, “[Schneider, Wong and I] all were in Stearns. I was walking to my room when I looked out my window and I saw guys walking around there. I thought it was weird that there were people out after sign-in. I started seeing them throw toilet paper on Stevens and a tree and I called Alex [Schneider] over.”
Steven Carver, Edward McGuire and William Brackett, Public Safety Officers, responded to the call. Two officers from the Andover Police Department responded as well.
According to Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety, PAPS was able to respond quickly because one officer, who already had been patrolling the area and performing routine building checks, had noticed several cars parked on Judson Road, which branches off Bartlet Street behind Rabbit Pond.
After the five teenagers toilet papered the Rabbit Pond area, they headed toward the Cochran Chapel parking lot, according to Schneider. He notified PAPS of their change in location.
When the PAPS officers pulled up next to French House, the teenagers bolted towards Judson Road, where they had parked their cars. The PAPS officers chased the teenagers on foot.
Schneider described the scene. “PAPS officer jumps out of the car, comes out with the lights on and runs after these kids. [He was] sprinting. He has his flashlight on. The kids start running… The PAPS officer is actually gaining on them. He’s going really fast. He start chasing them up the hill and that’s where they got out of sight.”
Although three of the pranksters escaped into the woods and to their car, PAPS managed to apprehend and identify two of the teenagers, obtaining their names and addresses, according to Conlon.
PAPS commanded the two teenagers to stop and lie on the ground. According to Conlon, there was no physical confrontation between the officers and the teenagers. The Andover Police took over the situation from there.
Per standard procedure, the police issued a verbal no-trespass order and will send a no-trespass letter to the teenagers’ homes, which states that if they are found on campus again, they will be arrested.
Wong said that he saw the teenagers running back to their cars.
“I went out, I was doing my recycling duty, and [the teenagers] ran past me. They went up the hill, they went near GW [Hall]. One of the kids dropped his hat and I almost wanted to pick it up but I didn’t. But if I had [picked it up], I would have pretty solid evidence,” said Wong.
Conlon said, “There’s really nothing the police can do. [The pranksters used] toilet paper. They weren’t injuring anybody. What we do is we have the names and addresses of the young men involved, and we will be issuing a no-trespass order that goes in their name to their parents. If they do happen to come on Phillips Academy property again, then they could be arrested for trespassing.”
Custodians and students in surrounding dorms helped to clean up the toilet paper.
This is the second time Stearns has been vandalized this year. In October, four teenagers threw eggs at students and house counselors in Stearns. The eggers also had a vehicle parked on Judson Road.
According to Conlon, the names of the two teenagers who were caught on Tuesday did not match those of the four teenagers who egged Stearns this fall.
Conlon said, “[Stearns is often targeted] because Stearns is the easiest to access from the back of Rabbit Pond. You have the woods and so forth, so it’s easy to come up to.”
He said that PAPS expects similar pranks when local students are on vacation. For the time being, PAPS has planned more frequent patrols of the Rabbit Pond area. According to Conlon, PAPS may consider installing portable video cameras in the future.
Conlon said that PAPS did not contact AHS and that the students would likely not face disciplinary action from the school. “[The incident took place] after school hours and it’s up to the parents to control what their kids are doing,” he added.
“We appreciate if [Andover students] can call us [PAPS] right away when they get involved – which I believe [students] did [in this case] – so we’re able to respond and get the [pranksters] right away,” said Conlon.