Three Marshall High School students who have garnered a nationwide following on several social media websites by videotaping themselves performing public pranks have now drawn the attention of the Fairfax County Police, who have charged the teens with disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
The three related teens, ages 16, 16 and 15, live in Vienna and in online videos call themselves “three cheeky kids with a camcorder.” Since December 2011, the trio has videotaped themselves performing public pranks and the ensuing reactions of unaware bystanders.
Several attempts to contact the teens have gone unreturned. No attorney information for them has been made public.
They broadcast their antics as well as self-interviews on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook under the name “The Chaizy Channel”; a name that in one video they say derives from a Middle Eastern cousin who once called their antics “cheesy” in a thick accent. “We’ve always been pranksters,” one of them said in a self-produced video interview. “So on Dec. 10, 2011, we started filming them.”
Chaizy Channel pranks are generally harmless and are in the vein of other self-filmed YouTube pranksters, who garner tens of thousands of online viewers worldwide. All three teens have become local celebrities at their high school, and beyond, as evidenced by the hundreds of posted comments on their videos.
Online,the Chaizy Channel has received nearly six million hits and boasts nearly 200,000 subscribers. In one video the teens say they will soon begin selling Chaizy Channel t-shirts.
The popularity of such shows as Jackass, Fear Factor and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers have popularized public pranking, and the Vienna trio have localized it and made it their own. From pretending to drink Windex (actually Gatorade in a Windex bottle) in front of a local supermarket cashier, to interrupting a group of self-absorbed Ultimate Frisbee players on the National Mall, the laughs come primarily from both those being pranked, as well as the incredulous onlookers not in on the joke.
But one such prank by the trio, which has been widely imitated and has now come to be known as “gallon smashing” has gone viral and subsequently gotten the attention of regional supermarket chains as well as the Fairfax County Police.
In the Chaizy Channel video, one teen is shown in a supermarket throwing two plastic milk gallons into the air as he purposely falls to the ground. The act continues to be videotaped as the plastic containers explode on impact around the fallen teen. The result looks very much as if he inadvertently slips and falls amid a huge puddle of spilled milk.
Since their original video went viral about 8 weeks ago, the Vienna trio’s prank has been imitated and videotaped numerous times across the U.S., resulting in some supermarket chains to issue statements condemning it. Charges against imitators in several states have also occurred.
“Last month, a ‘gallon smashing’ prank occurred inside a neighborhood Giant Food location,” said Giant Food supermarket spokesperson Jamie Miller. “Of utmost importance to Giant is the safety and well-being of our associates and our customers. The prank involves property damage and poses a safety threat not just for the offender, but also to other customers and our associates. We continue to work with local law enforcement and monitor in-store cameras as well as You Tube for similar acts.”
Another supermarket chain, North Carolina-based Harris Teeter, has also denounced the prank.
“Fairfax County Police Department approached Harris Teeter in late February about these incidents because our stores were among the various retailers targeted,” said Harris Teeter spokeswoman Danna Jones. “The nature of this prank poses very serious slip-and-fall threats to both customers and associates, and Harris Teeter will fully cooperate with Fairfax County Police Department in its investigation.”
On Tuesday, Fairfax County Police spokesman Don Gotthardt said the three teens have been charged by police for seven “gallon smashing” incidents that occurred in four local supermarkets. “Petitions have been filed and charges have been brought,” he said. “They are being charged with seven counts each of disorderly conduct and destruction of property.”
In Virginia, each count of disorderly conduct is a class one misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Destruction of property is likewise a class one misdemeanor, unless the amount of property damaged amounts to more than $1,000. In that case, the charge becomes a class 6 felony punishable by one to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,500.
The Times’ policy is to not name junveniles charged in crimes, except in cases of violent crimes or when they are charged as adults. In an online interview with video news website Rightthisminute.com, the three teens say they are sorry that the prank offended anyone, and say they are “thinking about” offering to pay for the spilled milk.