The moon pokes out behind a cloud and reveals three sophomore teenagers wearing all black, darting from one oak tree to the next on their way to toilet paper the two story house at the end of Audubon Circle in Wildhorse.
The three teenagers are doing what they believe is fun. The Davis Police Department has a different view; they call it vandalism.
“TPing” is the act of tossing toilet paper into trees of another person’s house but the real argument is whether or not it is considered vandalism.
“I believe TPing is a minor case of vandalism because it’s defacing someone’s tree which is part of their property,” sophomore Patrick Zhu said.
But others say that TPing is fine. “Tping is not vandalism because it doesn’t damage the person’s property,” sophomore Yuto Okomoto said.
“Its fun to go TPing because I do it as a joke,” sophomore Natalie Ho said.
However, Davis Police Officer Ton Phan said, “TPing is a crime because it is defacing property that is not your own.”
Ivan Ramos once went with his sophomore stepsister and three of her friends from St. Francis to TP a boy who his sister was mad at. They snuck down side streets in Wildhorse until they came upon the house. They TPed the house for about an hour with 60 rolls of toilet paper before making their way back to their home through the midnight blackness. Not until the next day did they realize they had TPed the wrong house.
On the other hand TPing can escalate into much worse things like egging, throwing rocks through windows, and spray painting. “Vandalism is far different from TPing because it hurts feelings and damages property,” sophomore Monica Leflore said.
Leflore’s definition of vandalism is shared by many: if it leaves a mark or breaks something such as a window, then it is vandalism.
Officers try to control TPing and vandalism but it is not a top priority. “We don’t go out and actively look for TPing people. We usually get a call and we go check it out,” Officer Phan said.
Police provide assistance by enforcing punishments for TPing. Officer Phan said that if he catches kids TPing another person’s property he tells them to clean it up and leaves any future punishment to the parents of the victimized house.
But vandalism is another story.
“I’m always scared that when I go TPing I will be caught,” Ho said. According to the California Penal Code, the punishment for vandalizing a property if the price of the damage is less then $400 is one year in jail or a $1,000 dollar fine.
I’m always really scared when I go TPing that I’ll get caught and have to pay a fine,” said Ho.