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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Teen pool mischief a sign of changing times?

Received a report of teen mischief at a Plainfield resident's pool this past week.

About a dozen teens, the oldest of which might have been fifteen, got into a homeowner's pool area in the Netherwood Heights area at dusk on Tuesday, making themselves at home by hooking up an iPod belonging to one of them to the homeowner's stereo system.

By the time the homeowner got to the pool area (after calling the police), they had discovered the outdoor fridge and had starting tossing articles into the pool.

The owner reports several of the boys ran off, several got on their bikes and fled and several had the nerve to stay behind to give the homeowner a hard time.

After he piled up five of their bikes in the yard and blocked the way back to the pool area for the iPod owner to retrieve his gadget, he was menaced by the teens, including one threatening to shoot him and motioning toward a pocket as though he had a concealed weapon.

The homeowner held them off until the police arrived. The bikes and the iPod were taken by the police to headquarters and the kids were told they could retrieve their property only if their parents came down to police headquarters with them.

Police told the property owner he would be notified if/when the kids and parents came down to HQ, but as of Sunday morning has no information that any parents had come down.

Because his stereo system is hidden and one of the kids knew where to hook his iPod up, the homeowner believes at least some of the kids have been on the property previously and may be responsible for large stones which have been thrown into the pool on several occasions.

Aside from the question of how long it took police to respond (10-15 minutes), the homeowner says they were as helpful as they could be and an officer came back recently the check up once more. (In their defense, I pointed out the police are understaffed, though the response time may be questionable.)

What strikes me about this is that four or five days after the incident there is no apparent response from the parents of the kids involved.

If I left the house with my bike and came home without it, my parents would have quizzed me until I gave up the truth -- no matter how long it took.

And an iPod? Perhaps the kid hid its loss from his parents, but wouldn't he be questioned after a while?

When I was a young teen, my mother once overheard my brother and I talking about waxing the local grocery's (more like a bodega than a supermarket) front window on Hallowe'en one year. (This was a no-no; by common understanding kids could use soap -- which could be washed off -- but not wax, which had to be scraped off.)

She quizzed us about who had been with us, called each parent and told them she was marching us down to Mrs. Nasca's store so we could apologize and make everything right.

Their was a little parade down to the Red & White grocery, where each of us stammered our apology to Mrs. Nasca. She supplied razor blades for scraping and buckets of hot water with ammonia for a follow-up scrub.

In an hour or so's time our penance was done and we were restored to good standing with our parents and Mrs. Nasca.

And we never did anything like it again.

Ah, but that was another place and another century even, evidently with different parental expectations.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Isn't is ironic that if one of the little thugs had fallen in the pool and drowned the parents would probably sue the owner's pants off.

Anonymous said...

Did I miss something? It doesn't appear as if the kids were arrested. If so, why weren't they? That would have been one way to get their parents to come down to the police station.

Anonymous said...

What I cannot believe is that is was only the TOYS that got brought to the station! Why didn't the kids get taken in and the parents FORCED to come pick them up?! The only punishment is the loss of some toys that they didn't have to pay for and which I'm sure will be replaced once they tell their parents they were "stolen". What is most disturbing is that it wasn't even that hot yesterday. This was not some sneak into the neighbors pool of days gone by. There was willful destructiveness - tossing fridge items into the pool.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the bikes, we had a group of children on our block who would fan out on a couple of bikes and come back with half a dozen. Later they would just dismantle and destroy the stolen bikes. These kids drank the dregs of liquor bottles they found and also smoked pot as pre-teens. If the kids cited were anything like this crew, I am not surprised that no parents came forward.

Anonymous said...

Not enough police presence? Uhm

Anonymous said...

I am the mom of 7 kids.....Five boys and two girls. Now, I did not raise angels by any stretch of the imagination, they got in their share of trouble. If my kids were found in this kind of a spot I would have expected to have to pick them up at the police station not just notice that someone's bike or radio/IPod was missing and had do inquire, "did something happen today Johnny that you want to share with me?". My boys would have been cooling their heels with the cops till I could get there, a ride in the back of the squad car with the threat of the homeowner pressing charges would straighten more than one posterior out really quick, combined with my wrath when they got home. By postponing handling this stuff immediately we trivialize their poor choices, and condone the lack of interest and responsibility on the part of the parents/guardians.

This was handled poorly in my humble opinion. And we wonder why there is no respect from our young people...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the officer didn't do his job. Should have locked those kids up

Rob said...

The same parents who don't have any involvement with their children are the sames ones you see on the news wailing and flailing about after one of their kids got shot dealing drugs or involved in some other criminal activity screaming " WHY WHY WHY ?? " and blaming the cops. It's what you get when you let the government and school be the parents and not allow discipline in their lives.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic.
It's no wonder why these kids are sooo disrespectful. They are not held accountable for their actions.
I WISH one of my children would try to be disrespectful to an adult!
Some parents now a days are SAD. Pitiful and sad! What the heck are we in for 10-15 years from now.

Anonymous said...

And these kids were not arrested for trespassing because...?

Anonymous said...

Well i think we should blame the property owner for having the pool which lured the sweet wnderful youths in. The fact that he has a refrigerator outside only adds to the invite. The little angels were having a wondeful time until the big bad homeowner got involved

Pat said...

It's "my brother and me" and "there," not "their."
That out of the way, sounds as though these kids will simply steal bikes and iPod replacements.
Did no one notice that one of these youngsters threatened to shoot the homeowner?
I agree. They should have gone to police hq with the cops and waited for their parents. Not that I believe, as one person did, it would make much difference to future behavior.

Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...


Do you know what is being done to resolve the understaffed situation at the PPD? I recently had to wait almost 30minutes for a police car to show up at my corner for an incident and was told by the officer that there were only 5 officers for the entire city, and granted, this was a weekday and it was 9 AM, but what is the ration and how does it change on daily basis? Do you know? Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Before I get corrected, please, note I meant ratio, not ration, and while we could probably say "what's our ration of police officers that the city allows us per day?" I am almost sure that wouldn't be proper English:-).

Thanks! Maria Pellum

Anonymous said...

Did you ever think that one of the kids could have been an officers?

Raquel said...

I don't understand why the teens weren't taken to the station by the police and held there until they were picked up by their parents. The fact that their items were taken away and may not be returned means nothing...especially if they were stolen in the first place. They'll just steal again to replace these items. Further, these parents must be held accountable for their children's behavior!I hope the homeowner presses charges to teach these little thugs a lesson. My brother, who is a Union County Juvenile Detention Officer, would love to have them!

Anonymous said...

The Mayor lets the police director off without proper punishment,so I guess the Police are just following her example and let the trespassing criminals off also.

Anonymous said...

Dan - these kids won't be straightening up and flying right, like you did. Many of these kids will be in jail in a hnadful of years, without a clue as to where they went wrong.