The Healy Hall clock, sans hands last week. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post) (Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Since at least the 1960s, Georgetown students have attempted to steal the clock hands as a prank. In recent years, the university deterred students from doing so by installing alarms and locked doors, although the prank is still noted during admissions tours. The last successful hands heist was in 2005.

Last week a band of three individuals who claim responsibility e-mailed a student-run magazine a photo of the hands and their version of what happened. In that e-mail, the individuals claim they did no damage to the hands or the clock. “The hands are now safely en route to Vatican City to receive the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI,” the message read.

On Thursday, the three individuals — self-identified as “Reaper, Goliath and Juliet” — posted a poem and photo on the Web site CollegeCraig. The group agreed to give the hands back in exchange for the university’s new mascot, a bulldog puppy named Jack Junior. The poem reads, in part: “We have your key to make Hoya history. And since we’re not much for publicity, we’ll give it back in double, but don’t want any more trouble.”

The university has been updating students, alumni and others on the status of the missing hands via social media. A recent update read: “We are thrilled that the Healy Clock is restored and, as the school year winds down, reminded of an important lesson from Dickens: procrastination is the thief of time.”

For more higher education news, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And here are some other pieces I have written about Georgetown:

Georgetown University’s Healy Hall clock tower is missing its hands (April 30)

Georgetown clock hands might be headed to Rome (May 2)

Former pranksters encourage Georgetown officials to embrace tradition (May 1)