Fairfax police look into viral ‘gallon-smashing’ prank

Fairfax County police say they are looking into the activities of the Northern Virginia teens who gave the world “gallon-smashing” -- a Youtube stunt that has spread from a Vienna grocery store to places as far away as Europe.

In the videos, a teenager pretends to trip and fall while actually throwing a gallon of milk at the ground. The outcome is messy and, it goes without saying, inconvenient to grocery stores — perhaps why Fairfax County police have quietly spent the past month reviewing the incidents.

“We’re aware of the problem, but not sure of the outcome yet,” said police spokesman Don Gotthardt. “There’s a lot more to the investigation than there might seem.”

The prank first surfaced in mid-February on the Youtube channel of Omar, Zayd and Faysal Khatib, who call themselves “3 cheeky kids with a camcorder.”

The Khatibs could not be reached for comment.

While the three are long-time Youtube pranksters -- one of their other stunts involves lying down in front of shoppers at Tyson’s Corner -- this video took off in a way its predecessors hadn’t, racking up more than 2 million views within its first 10 days online. Outlets like the New York Daily News quickly dubbed it “the next Harlem Shake.” The three later deleted the original, but other Youtube users have reposted it.

Copy-cat videos have also sprung up in France, Germany and Britain. ABC reports that 10 teenagers in Utah were charged with disorderly conduct for repeating the prank in February; police in Scranton, Pa., used social media to track down three men who broke not only milk gallons but beer bottles at Target and Wegmans stores.

“You might think it’s a prank or whatever, but you are destroying other people’s property and committing a theft,” a Montana sheriff told the Billings Gazette after citing a 15-year-old boy with misdemeanor criminal mischief and theft.

Police are currently in discussions with the parents and schools of the teens involved, Gotthardt said.

This isn’t the Khatibs’ first encounter with the law: In a video posted to Youtube in August, an officer on the National Mall approaches the boys as one of them pretends to be injured.

“I don’t think we can top it,” Omar told the cable show Right This Minute, referring to the gallon-smashing. “We probably won’t do anything this bad again. Probably calm it down a little.”

But just a few weeks later, the trio tweeted: “Spring break next week! Time to chill. NOT! We’re going to be filming every day all day!”

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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