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Small Northern Iowa town battles nefarious homecoming hijinks; police say it’s a “recipe for disaster”

ESTHERVILLE - Cheese slices on houses, windows, pools. Banging on windows at night. Toilet paper in trees. Graffiti. Sugar in gas tanks. Citizens harassed.

ESTHERVILLE – Cheese slices on houses, windows, pools. Banging on windows at night. Toilet paper in trees. Graffiti. Sugar in gas tanks. Citizens harassed.

These are some of the crimes that are allegedly happening in Estherville, Iowa, police say.

Estherville Police Department Chief Brent Shatto shared the following with the community, apparently in the hopes that nefarious world-doers and possibly their parents would come to their senses and cease and desist harassing and defacing their fine community:

Homecoming 2023:

I guess I haven’t shared this message that I wrote in 2014 for some time. I believe that I should have.

Over the last couple of days, the police department has received complaints of damage to property. Some of the complaints are about toilet paper. The other complaints are victims that are being harassed and damage done involving more than toilet paper…

See attached photos….ask yourself, if you would like to see this on your house or buildings. Ask yourself if you would want your family woken up with loud voices and people banging on windows. Ask yourself if you want to clean this type of mess up.

The photos depict some of the damage done with putting cheese on windows and houses. The picture of the pop can is a can that was thrown at the homeowner. The swimming pool photo shows several slices of cheese floating in the pool.

The was another complaint of a car with sugar in the gas tank and profanity written on car windows. Would you like to pay for the repair bills on a vehicle…..

Some say “it’s just toilet paper”…. the victims of this crime know that it is a lot more.

The Estherville Police Department is actively investigating several complaints….there has been and will be more charges filed in this case.


I wrote this in 2014 and unfortunately we have to remind our community every year of the legal issues and dangers of “homecoming fun”.

I also find it hard to believe that after two tragic motor vehicles deaths of students, that people find it ok to participate in risky behavior. Who will be next…..


Good Morning,

This post will be unlike most other posts on our site, however, this method of reaching out to the public seems to be the fastest and reaches people both near and far.

Homecoming is a time to show your school spirit, showcase our town and school for the alumni. A time to gather with friends, former classmates and teammates and to rally around your hometown football team. There are probably many good reasons and things that happen during homecoming, but those are a few that I could think of quickly.

There are many ways to show your school spirit and showcase our town that can be nice and productive. As I walked into ELC High School today, I watched several people dressed up in the chosen attire for the day, with hats, makeup, and clothes. I see the elementary students all dressed up like their idols from their favorite teams. Our officers prepare for the parade that brings young and old alike to our downtown and Central Avenue area to support our athletic teams, bands and students. There are movie nights with free popcorn and numerous other events for our kids to get involved with this week. I’m sure that there are many other activities that I am not aware of.

As usually happens with the toilet papering, it almost always goes too far, and it has again. You may ask, “what is going to far?”

I will give a few examples:

Toilet papering the police department or the police vehicles. Drawing, painting, or doing damage to a police vehicle.
Stealing pumpkins and decorations.
Throwing eggs at homes, vehicles, or buildings.
Painting obscene words of pictures on vehicles or windows.
Throwing toilet paper on any property that the owner does not want to be involved in the mischief.
Putting flour, ranch dressing, or anything on a motor vehicle.
Putting cheese on houses and vehicles.
The list goes on and on….you get the idea.

Let me first say that our children out running around town at night is a recipe for disaster. They seem to find it exciting to be out sneaking around and running when the police come. I understand the thrill, however, it is very dangerous. There have been instances of people being hurt or even killed just out having so called fun. The last thing that any community needs is to have a serious accident or death during it’s homecoming week festivities. Those type of unfortunate accidents can have long lasting effects on a family, community, and school. The last thing any of us want is someone getting hurt.

You may or may not know this but it is illegal to put anything on or in a motor vehicle in the State of Iowa without the permission of the owner. Tampering with a Motor Vehicle is a Serious Misdemeanor and an offense that we usually put people in jail for. Egging, painting the windows, pouring flour on, or any other damage to a vehicle would qualify for this type of charge. Damage to a vehicle would fall under the Criminal Mischief code section as well. We had a vehicle a few years ago that sustained over $1,500 in damage caused by flour both inside and outside of the car. $1500 in damage is a Class D Felony punishable by 5 years in prison. Eggs and shaving cream can damage the paint on a vehicle. The same applies to houses or businesses. We have already had numerous reports of vehicles egged and shaving cream put on them.

There are several other laws that may be violated with the activity that has gone on during our homecoming weeks of the past and present.

I type this in hopes that it will remind one student or parent that this type of behavior is not only illegal, but may have many other consequences. Please try to remember the true meaning of a homecoming celebration before you do damage to another person’s property.

We at the Estherville Police Department enjoy the events in our community and want everyone to have fun, be safe, and obey the rules. We will investigate and charge people involved in criminal activity, sorry but that is the business we are in.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this post, please feel free to send a private message or call the police department. I will be happy to discuss any matter with you and try to resolve any differences of opinion on this or any topic.

Thank you for your time.

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