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When The Thief Is Also Your Neighbor

On the HillEast listserv on Capitol Hill, there's a fascinating discussion taking place about how to handle that peculiar moment in contemporary life when you discover that the bad guy who is making your life miserable also happens to be the neighbor down the block. Here's the original story from the victim of a petty crime:

Last weekend, my boyfriend's bike was stolen out of our front yard, in the middle of the afternoon. He had only left it there for about 10 minutes, and a group of boys walking by decided to take it (and his bookbag, which was on it). It's a long story but we did find out who the culprits were -- they must have argued or something over the $20 in the bookbag or the bike itself -- and we have been to both their homes (neither of them lives more than a block away) They each accuse the other of having the bike.

I called the police to make a report, and after two days of us talking to the boys and their families, with
lots of promises but no results (ie bike not returned) we went again
to the substation and gave the names and addresses of these boys to
the police. They at first told me that nothing would happen -- no
visit to the boys to let them know that it is a serious thing to
steal, or anything else, because it was "only a bike" and not very
important. I went again the next day to speak to a supervisor, to
voice my concern that, with 11 year olds throwing rocks at windows,
and 14 year olds stealing bikes in broad daylight, the police are
apparently unable or uninterested in even speaking to these very
young people in an attempt to discourage them from committing more
serious crimes when they get older. Because they are surely getting
older right down the street from me, frankly, and I don't want to
think about what they'll be doing in a few years.

So anyway, the supervisor told me that they do follow up on every
case, and that someone would visit these boys and speak to them, but
I am not really sure if it will happen. Or if there is a better way
to address this since we do know who they are. The families were
very cooperative, and one of the boys has said he will pay us back
for the bike (but I'm not at all sure he will), but there is
obviously a bigger concern here, in that it happened at all. I don't
think these guys are drug addicts or horribly poor children who just
couldn't resist taking a bicycle to ride around on -- they were just
walking by and figured what the hell.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

The neighbors on the listserv most certainly did have some suggestions, and here's a digest of their responses:

Ideally, you wanted the bike returned. It wasn't. Hard lesson to learn that city living is tough and you always have to be aware and mindful of your possessions. You may want to speak to the families again and suggest that since the boys did not return the bike that they should BOTH do yard work for you and some of your neighbors as well as some sort of community service that is monitored and you get a report back. Maybe in the end it will show that people (neighbors and family) are paying attention to their actions and they need to be accountable. This could make the difference between helping them choose the right and wrong paths. Just a thought.

Another response:

You may want to print out all these discussions about this situation and show it to the families. I imagine they'll be embarrassed that the community is paying such close attention. You could also have a petition signed by your neighbors that you'd like these two boys do yard work, or the like, for a certain amount of time. But if nothing is done, it will likely happen again.

These responses seem a bit too rational and reasonable to my taste. Do we really think the families of these kids, if they haven't followed up on the original conversation with the victim by now, are amenable to suggestions like these? I admire the victim for choosing to inform and confront those parents directly, but having seen that there was no effective response--no compensation, no apology--shouldn't this be turned over to the authorities for action?

Here's a view from a member of the local advisory neighborhood commission's public safety committee:

I am sorry, but I do not agree with having them do yard work. These kids, as well as their parents, need to be taught a lesson, and it's not found in raking leaves. If you know who stole the bike, and they have all but admitted it, then you need to press the police about dealing with them. A crime was committed, and the police have a judicial obligation to affect an arrest.

Here's a neighbor who came up with another way to force some recognition of responsibility on the part of the parents of the kids:

I would send registered letters to both set of parents & kids documenting what transpired, specifically request immediate return of the bike or pay me $XXX.XX for stealing it, give them a deadline for responding back or you will file a lawsuit in small claims court AND JUST DO IT! The boys would most likely lie about "doing it" during any police interview. It's a he said / she said situation that would not end up in charges be drawn up against the boys, so the police are avoiding doing it because the only "evidence" is what you & your BF are saying. That would not hold up in juvenile court. IMHO, suing them for their irresponsibility [would] certainly do more than hoping the Police take some kind of action.

That suggestion caused one of the earlier respondents to change tactics:

I previously suggested community service but Roger reinforces a VALID POINT. Since there has been an admission of guilt, I believe parents should take (some) responsibility for their children's actions. If they know their children did something wrong and don't do something to rectify the problem, ie., they pay you back themselves, then they too are not doing anything to change their children's behavior. The parents should pool together and pay you back, then have their children work to pay them back. That would be the RIGHT thing to do. Unfortunately, people have all sorts of ideas about what is RIGHT and what they should dismiss. It's up to you to be firm and ask the parents that the RIGHT thing to be done. It is shocking the parents didn't consider this themselves.

A couple more bits of advice on the jump....

Some more of the conversation among Capitol Hill neighbors about how to deal with the bad guys down the block:

Personally, I don't think the "crime emergency" that's been declared is going to change anything long term, and I doubt curfews or neighborhood cameras will either. They don't change behavior. But I'm sure most of us here have benefitted from somebody reaching out and keeping us in check at some point in life. The kids did steal, and apparently aren't denying it, so having the police drop by doesn't seem inappropriate. Maybe it won't change a thing, but at least it is a step.

And this:

Very simple answer: If you ride a bike in DC and you have to leave it unattended for more then 10 seconds, LOCK IT UP. That is just a basic rule of bike ownership in the city. The other details can be discussed forever, but the best practical resolution is to make sure it is locked. Also, all bikes in DC must be registered with the MPD. This helps identify the bike if it is recovered. I think it cost $1.00 and you do it at the 1st District Police Station.

Anything you'd like to add?

By Marc Fisher |  July 26, 2006; 8:02 AM ET
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Over here on the Eastern Shore we use firearms, and we don't have problems like this. People are just a lot more civil. You all DC liberals are reaping what you've sown.

Posted by: Pocomoke | July 26, 2006 8:18 AM

To Pocomoke-

So you're suggesting what? Shoot the kids over a bike? That's an easy way to wind up in jail.

There's plenty of gun use in certain neghborhoods, but that doesn't seem to keep crime down, either.

Posted by: J | July 26, 2006 9:01 AM

If we are serious about doing something to reduce the spike in juvenile crimes that so alarms Chief Ramsey, maybe one place to start (surely not the only one) is to adopt a more responsive attitude to this sort of thing rather than waiting until the bike thief graduates to stealing cars and assaulting people.

Many of our cops are out there risking their lives every day, but in my (recent) encounters with MPD, too many are looking for excuses to do nothing.

Posted by: Meridian | July 26, 2006 9:20 AM

I just LOVE how the police simply can't be bothered with addressing the issue of stolen property. If they get involved at this stage, it might help prevent future crime down the road.

It's been my experience that the MPD is loath to do anything involving breaking a sweat--unless it's revenue-producing work like writing parking tickets. Then you may be assured of their utmost diligence. I wonder if they work on commission.

What do they think is in their job description, anyway?

Posted by: tamerlane | July 26, 2006 9:20 AM

Throw the bamas in jail! Nuf sed!

Posted by: Bigg | July 26, 2006 9:35 AM

I am disgusted by the police's apparent response to this. In Cleveland Park, we were having problems with groups of kids harassing people, throwing rocks at various people and things (e.g. buses), and people started talking about it on the Cleveland Park email list. Our 2D acting commander, Andy Solberg, was very responsive about it and took the whole thing very seriously. Police talked to the principal of a nearby school, where it was suspected some of these kids were coming from, and some of their parents too, I believe.

As far as I know the problem has improved.

What WOULD be serious enough for those Hill officers to spend their time on??? Is it a difference between living in Cleveland Park and living on the Hill?

Posted by: Redliner | July 26, 2006 9:36 AM

To J

Why would you shoot kids over a stolen bike? You're really bent.

Firearms have a great deterrent effect, when the right people have them. Your point is that in DC, only the wrong people have them. All the right people are spending their time whining about the police on the internet.

Don't you all in DC ever do anything for yourselves? No wonder everyone's stealing your bikes. Tell me where you live and I'll come around and help myself.

Posted by: Pocomoke | July 26, 2006 9:38 AM

I think the point is that the parents should've stepped up and done something.....

I'm in Annapolis, and had a similar thing--my neighbors (houses are back to back, with 8-foot fences around each yard) stole my grill last summer. Not even an expensive grill--a $70 Weber charcoal. They apparently hopped the fence, dropped the grill over (it was all misshapen when I got it back) and covered it with a laundry basket by the time I noticed it.

The local police were great--I just wanted the grill back, didn't need to press charges but I was fearful of retaliation. The neighbors were made to bring back my grill and apologize, though they still maintained that they had no idea how it got there.....

Posted by: Annapolis | July 26, 2006 10:03 AM

Pocomoke's response is a great example of why DC needs a proactive police force. If the police don't provide security, vigilante's will do it for them, but without such niceties as "probable cause," or "appropriate use of force."

Some states allow victims to sue the parents of minors who damage or steal others' property. This sounds like a good anti-crime issue that Our Beloved Congress could get involved in. Hm?

Posted by: CT | July 26, 2006 10:03 AM

I grew up in an area with plenty of firearms-for hunting and "protection." We still had kids (white) swipe bikes and commit other "petty" crimes. But, the police actually followed up-whether officially (arrest them, seek official restitution) or unofficially (broker an agreement between the parties). It just looks like the police don't care.

Posted by: AKA | July 26, 2006 10:05 AM

The MPD, in my experience with a small theft (also a bike) is completely useless. Oh, they'll take a police report over the phone, but that's about it. God forbid that they actually send someone to the scene, who would then have to get out of a squad car and do something!

Seriously, when was the last time you saw an MPD officer out of their car when they were not either a. walking back to the car from a CVS or restaurant, or b. writing a ticket? Crime is down in NYC overall, and I think that this has a lot to do with officers walking their "beats", knowing the neighborhood and having a presence there.

Posted by: Rudy and Blitz | July 26, 2006 10:08 AM

It is so frustrating when people, particularly kids (and their parents), don't live according to the same rules as you do. I just figured out how to solve your problem legally, quickly and with dividends. If you can contact me I'll tell you about it dkbain at gist research dot com.

Posted by: GuruDave | July 26, 2006 10:23 AM


I grew up on a farm. I know what it feels liek to pick rock salt out of my butt. It never stopped the bad apples where I grew up from petty theft or vandalism.

I just don't think guns in the city are the answer to this type of problem. There isn't enough space between people, so its easy for small disagreements to become major fights- and guns don't belong in that situation, IMHO. You would wind up with many more of these situations:

These people in this case ARE doing something about it. They've gone to the parents and talked to people in the community. What should be their next step, in your opinion? You seem to feel that this isn't worth wasting police time.

Posted by: J | July 26, 2006 10:27 AM


Are you contributing to the public shaming of the boys and their families by posting the message thread? If so, I think it's an appropriate thing to do. However, I do worry that the HillEast listserv is a private list, and unless every listserv member has given you approval to post this publically, some people may be unhappy that the HillEast laundry is getting aired in this forum. If it's a public list, and non-members can read the forum posts, then keep it coming! :-)

Posted by: Del Ray | July 26, 2006 10:37 AM

An eye for an eye? Go pull their car or other mode of transportation. The reason these kids keep doing what they do is because they see no consequence to their actions. We can sit here all day and discuss how we would handle it, but they aren't going to read this and they don't really care what we think. Kids these days are out of control and I'm on the side of the fence that blames ill-equipped parents who have no interest in discipline. It's a damn shame that the rest of us are so tolerant of this while our city is slowly being taken over by thugs.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | July 26, 2006 10:49 AM

Call the Capitol Police, which is this neighborhood's only active law enforcement body. And they actually relish having something to do.

Posted by: Neighbor | July 26, 2006 10:54 AM

If you leave something such as a bike unlocked for just a few minutes expect it to get stolen, especially in the District. You wouldn't leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition would you? I'm not saying stealing a bike isn't a crime but have some common sense about what you're doing. Don't leave criminals, and yes theiving kids are criminals in my book, with an opportunity to steal.

Don't expect the MPD do do anything about a stolen bike. They're worthless. You know it, I know it, everyone in town knows the DC police are useless when it comes to doing actual police work.

Chalk it up as an expensive lesson in how to live on Capitol Hill.

Yes, I live in the suburbs and while I don't have near the crime problem as some District residents have I also don't offer up opportunities for criminals to rob me of my property.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 11:01 AM

I just don't get this. Do the cops think this is cute? Good people shouldn't have to put up with being victimized by thugs, big or small.

Posted by: Law-Abiding Citizen | July 26, 2006 11:01 AM

This is exactly the problem with our city, one of the primary reasons our juvenile crime rate is so high. Parents and police let kids get away with the small things and then act surprised when the kids start shooting one another. Kids have to learn consequences for the small things if we're going to stop them from committing the more serious crimes. The police should step in and use their full authority to punish youth when a crime is committed. Parents must step in as well and hold their children accountable for their actions. Intervene when they steal a bike and you might save the kid from shooting an innocent bystander five years down the road and serving a life sentence. It's just common sense!

Posted by: AR | July 26, 2006 11:03 AM

Marc (or Hal if you're listening);

You might want to look again at GuruDave's 10:23 and consider if it might be considered an attempt at blogspam. Just a thought.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 26, 2006 11:04 AM

DC is kind of a joke. The schools babysit their kids and try and impart some learning and get no better than Guam or Puerto Rico. The cops probably scrape the bottom of the barrell for recruits and while I admire them for working in inner city--they don't care about minor crime. The administration barely works and I mean "works" in all forms of that word. I would vote for Cropp because at least she's not racist and she is trying to get things done and improve the city by building a baseball stadium that brings in revenue and development along Anacostia. Knuckleheads like Brown that say "us" and "them" don't see that development brings in more people with money who bring in more tax dollars that give the poor the handouts and govt revenue that those handouts need. DC is getting better--it has gone from being corrupt with a broken administration under Barry to being better developed with a better Police Chief and merely an in-efficient administration under Williams. Good Luck to all that live there and I mean it honestly. I wish all a better govt.

Posted by: Annandale | July 26, 2006 11:06 AM

Having lived in Takoma Park/Silver Spring AND being the mother of teenagers this situation has a certain ring of familiarity to it.

1) Do yout have a witness or a picture of this theft that proves their kid did it? A pawn shop ticket proving they pawned the bike? As far as the parents are concerned it is your word against the story their kids are telling them. Wait until you have a teen and see for yourself.

2) This is a lesson. Don't leave bikes or other tempting things around. I've had bikes that were chained to porch rails dissapear. If this bothers you move somewhere else.

You aren't in Kansas anymore.

Posted by: RoseG | July 26, 2006 11:23 AM

File suit against the parents and put a lien on their property. They will not do anything until you force them to return your property. First your bike, next your car and after that, your life.

Posted by: ecomcon | July 26, 2006 11:32 AM

How hard would it be to just go to their garage and take the bike back?

Posted by: Ryan | July 26, 2006 11:32 AM

If the POLICE are not doing their jobs ... CALL THE MAYOR HOTLINE. Report the issue to the mayor. I guarantee something will happen quickly.

Posted by: DC Kevin | July 26, 2006 11:40 AM

I am happy here, in Old Dominion, and have one big comment on MPD. I read here people say MPD officers don't bother getting out of their cars, look into "petty" crimes, etc. Well, couple months ago, two of them got the time and drove to Dale City and were knoking on people's doors well after 9pm looking for two guys. I was home alone and was scared from the sound of knocking on my door so loudly! With a gun in my hand (yes, I care to protect myself) and behind closed door, I told officer I am not opening the door for oh-so-many reasons: 1 - he didn't bother to introduce himself (just that he is MPD) and I couldn't see his face under the cap or his insignia b/c he was standing to close to the door, 2 - he was out of his jurisdiction without Prince William Co. Police officer accompanying them (obviously they had plenty of time to notify PWCo and ask for assistance while taking time driving all the way down); 3 - he had no clue or did not bother to remember WHO he was looking for - here is a quote of what he asked from his partner who at the time was knocking on my neighbours' door "ah, who are we looking for?"
The PWCo police was notified immediately, they sent an office who took report and told me that "yes, mam, they are not supposed to come to VA neighbourhood without us being there too". I explicitly asked him to ask MPD to not do this any more -- why do I have to live through being scared the hell out of me by some MPD officer!! We enjoy dealing with our PWCo. officers. Go VA!

Posted by: Dale City VA | July 26, 2006 11:45 AM

My guess is that the bike is not at either house. Otherwise most parents would return it. No parents likes people showing up at their door carrying on about their kids.

If you really want the bike back put out word that you'll pay a reward for it.

I KNOW - it's all wrong, chalk it up to living in a city.

Posted by: RoseG | July 26, 2006 11:50 AM

what is wrong with these parents that they weren't horrified when they first realized that their kid stole a bike? why aren't they falling over themselves to apologize to their neighbor and force their kids to make restitution? it's not the police department's job to parent this miscreants (although they certainly should play a more active role than they have so far). if I was their neighbor, I'd be worried too about what these kids will get into next, given the lack of punishment for something this minor.

Posted by: belgie girl | July 26, 2006 11:53 AM

I am mostly disappointed in the MPD.

Kids will be kids. They've made a mistake and the parents are trying to teach them a lesson. Jail is harsh and, because probably not necessary, shouldn't be used. The raking leaves bit is probably the right direction but, ad hoc, probably wouldn't be as effective as a well thought out regular program. Is there one? Even if there is, however, it'll be useless because MPD isn't taking the first step.

One other thing, I think folks are being too harsh on the parents. None of us were angels. I'm sure every one who posted have done criminal and immoral things (drug use, anyone?). The parents made them confess and apologize. Probably gave them even more than that. But if, as it sounds, they are poor, lawsuits is like getting bllod from a stone. Prison is harsh. Hunger even harsher.

Instead, I'd go after the MPD. This story is just to dam usual.

Posted by: bfulton | July 26, 2006 12:11 PM

"Over here on the Eastern Shore we use firearms, and we don't have problems like this. People are just a lot more civil. You all DC liberals are reaping what you've sown."

As much as I am in favor of firearms for self defense, that kind of attitude that "you're reaping what you've sown" is a bit off-base. You're taking the situation at hand and amplifying it to include issues of a more serious nature. Have you ever lived around here? Guns serve as a deterent to crimes of a more serious nature, and your flashing a magnum at the neighborhood children to scare them would cause you not only grief but might end up putting a bullseye on your doorstep. You can't live the same way over here that you do on the Eastern Shore. And just because theres a right and a wrong way to do things doesnt mean that everyone will follow those rules, gun or no gun.

Over there on the Eastern Shore where they do things the "right" way, is there an impoverished backdrop to where you live? What's the population density like in your neck of the woods? I understand your point that you have to do things for yourself sometimes, and I agree whole heartedly, but your "stupid liberals" theory as to why D.C. is imploding is just wrong. Sorry if it comes across as an attack on you, but it's just not that simple or politically charged.

I'm not a liberal, so I don't take umbrage with the fact that you mention them, but come on. It sometimes seems the only way to deal with the problems here honestly is to get a convoy of bulldozers and raze the impoverished areas and start over. Parents grow up with this crap and then pass it on to their kids, its just a cycle of living that is perpetuated by inactivity on the part of law enforcement and government officials.

In response to the actual posting, go as high as you need to in order to get this done. Supervisor doesn't care? Call his boss. Then his bosses boss. The suggestion of threatening legal action is probably something you should initiate sooner rather than later, but you should also press on with the police. Even if they do nothing, it's necessary that this "we don't care" mentality is called out in the open.

Posted by: Five | July 26, 2006 12:15 PM

Im sure the MPD would love to assist Pee Wee with finding his bike, but I think he could of handled this situation w/o the police. If the thieves live down the block why not just canvass the area to see if you see someone riding it. 9 times out of ten the bike is not going to be far away. When he see's his bike then he can take it back.

Posted by: hogboss | July 26, 2006 12:17 PM

RoseG - "If this bothers you move somewhere else. You aren't in Kansas anymore."

Oh, great solution. So we all should just accept we're living in a crime-filled Hobbesian ghetto where even chained-up property isn't safe? What kind of attitude is that?

I don't know where you live now, but where I live in DC, it is NOT common or accepted for these kinds of crimes to happen regularly. If it were, I WOULD move somewhere (though probably not to Kansas. Hey, you know there's crime there too - Kansas City, Kansas is quite poor).

Posted by: Redliner | July 26, 2006 12:19 PM

to bfulton: "One other thing, I think folks are being too harsh on the parents. None of us were angels. I'm sure every one who posted have done criminal and immoral things (drug use, anyone?). The parents made them confess and apologize. Probably gave them even more than that. But if, as it sounds, they are poor, lawsuits is like getting bllod from a stone. Prison is harsh. Hunger even harsher."

Yes, none of us is perfect (no, no criminal, immoral or drugs here), but my parents made me burn in shame if I lied, or talked badly to them or to others, broke something that I did not pay for, etc. That was small stuff by your view, but that's why I never faced anything biger than that. That's what I will teach my kids -- because I don't want to feel ashamed. But if people come to my doors complaining about my child doing wrong, I will make sure the child shares my shame all the way, and learns the lesson. God blesses people with children, but we should raise them to His glory not to His and ours' shame. It doesn't sound from the story that parents tought them lesson.

"Instead, I'd go after the MPD. This story is just to dam usual."

So you will sit and wait for MPD to do what they already made clear they don't want to do. Why can't you take care of yourself?

Posted by: Dale City VA | July 26, 2006 12:20 PM

On the PSA102 Google list a few weeks ago, someone was complaining that juveniles driving a stolen car wrecked it, along with several parked cars, near Ludlow-Taylor Elementary. Neighbors who knew the boys identified them, but the responding officer refused to arrest them because he "didn't want to ruin their lives."

Compare with the speaker we had at a PSA102 meeting last year--an attorney from the Federal Public Defenders' office. He expressed his frustration with the DC "catch and release" system, because, he said, most of his clients had long rap sheets but had never served any jail time or experienced any other significant penalty. Unfortunately, he said, once they had committed a crime (federal offense) that landed them in HIS office, normally the best he could do for them was plea bargain the penalty down to 10 years or so.

Far too many members of DC's justice system believe that they're doing kids a favor by letting them off the hook.

Posted by: GJ | July 26, 2006 12:27 PM

I'm not excusing the boys by any stretch of the imagination...but hello, he left a bike and a bag unlocked, unattended, and visible from the sidewalk and street? and was then shocked to discover both had been stolen? And wonders why the police don't seem to share his dismay?

Posted by: former small town resident | July 26, 2006 12:32 PM

to former small town resident:

negligence and stupidity do not excuse criminal activity. That's why the charge of negligent homicide exists. Just because he left his posessions unwatched (unwise) doesn't mean that the cops can say "Well... you know I'd love to help you... but even though a crime was committed against you, we don't care because you're a moron. Yes, we're legally allowed to do that."

Posted by: Five | July 26, 2006 12:38 PM

former small town resident -- Read the article: "my boyfriend's bike was stolen out of OUR FRONT YARD". Since when is it do you or anyone should expect to have things stolen from people as long as the item is in theirs' front yard? If that yard is part of their property -- nothing should be taken from it by by-passers.

Posted by: Dale City VA | July 26, 2006 12:40 PM

The police force in DC is a joke. Just another reason not to live in DC. These kids that stole the bike will be gun packing drug dealers in a few years. Why not? They leran early that the cops do nothing when you steal a bike, throw rocks at windows, etc. The police and their non-existent parents teach them early that crime does pay and there is no cost for bad behavior. I agree with the guy from the Easter Shore. Shoot them early so they do not shoot you when they grow up.

Posted by: Chuck | July 26, 2006 12:43 PM

I also live on the Hill -- while I am not a member of the Hill East listserve, I do subscribe to another excellent listserve put out by 1st Dist MPD Commander Diane Groomes -- she is amazingly responsive, and I think she would be appalled to hear this story. (I once posted a relatively minor, but sincere complaint about the bad attitude I had received when posing a question to an officer standing in front of my house -- THE NEXT DAY there was another officer at my house investigating the incident.) I suspect that once this column is drawn to Cmdr Groomes attention, the poster will not only see action, but there will be some heads rolling at the substation . . . .

Posted by: Capitol Hill-ite | July 26, 2006 12:57 PM

"Shoot them early so they do not shoot you when they grow up."

You do realize that it's not a justified shooting in this case, right? I'd assume you meant as a general principle to more violent crimes? Otherwise you're going to have about 10+ years to sit in your jail cell relishing the lesson you taught the everyone by shooting children early and often.

Posted by: Five | July 26, 2006 1:01 PM

This is a much more complicated issue than many on this list have portrayed it. There is no simple solution. The following are just some of the complications.

1. You live in a city, not some small town with its "neighborliness". Cities tend to put large numbers of people together, not all of whom are of the highest moral caliber, not all of whom like each other, not all of whom can or will interact with their neighbors.

2. As a great writer (Jimmy Breslin, I think) said: Please remember that both cops and criminals come from the same socio-economic background. The cops understand and, sometimes sympathize with, the criminals much more than you or I.

3. Let's not blame it all on the Metropolitan Police. They are called on to do much more extraneous tasks than any other police force in the country. Their budget is limited as is the time that can be spent working on skills that are involved in the purely local law enforcement tasks. After all, how many cities require that their police "guard" some idiot preacher who put a statue of the 10 commandments in his front yard? How many police forces are required to provide motorcycle escorts (to say nothing of extra traffic patrols) for every semi-important dignitary from a country that didn't exist 3 years ago? The list goes on and on.

In an ideal world, the MPDC would have enoughmanpower, vehicles, and training to take care of the everyday problems that may pop up in East-Armpit South Dakota, but it's not an ideal world. The MPDC has to do policing in the capital of the free world, a place that is the target of every terrorist, crackpot and fringe group in the known world, and, oh, by the way, not step on the toes of the Capital Police, US Park Police, DIA, Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence, FBI, etc.

Giving good citizens of DC guns is just not a reasonable answer, although it may be a stupid one.

Posted by: Catcher50 | July 26, 2006 1:05 PM

Word to all who pointed out that the fact that the bike wasn't locked doesn't excuse the crime. It saddens me that a large group of people seem to think that leaving property unlocked *on your own property* is akin to "asking for it." Try substituting "got drunk while wearing a low cut top and a short skirt" for "left it unlocked" and "rape" for "stole" and I think you'll see that trying to blame the victim's actions for the crime is unsupportable. Bottom line, the activity of the victim is irrelevant to the actual crime; doesn't everyone have a right to not fear that their property will be stolen from their own yard, regardless of where they live, even if prudence would seem to dictate taking some precautions.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | July 26, 2006 1:26 PM

Pretty sad how some of these people are taking this far, far ahead for such a small thing.

Honestly, it just as simple as adjusting to your environment. Locking it up, which could have taken way less than 10 minutes, would have save the trouble. Also, you can always get insurance. (Now you realize it's worth having)

Morals goes out the window from Benning Rd to Capial Hill, please people stop pretending life is so pure and realize what's going on around you. Here and abroad.

There will never be the perfect world so please stop pretending you're living in one.

Thank you

Posted by: Frankey | July 26, 2006 1:31 PM

Someone raised a good issue: Why can't MPD attend to relatively little matters, like a bike theft? By not doing such, we are teaching these kids that they can live a consequence-free life. What's next? A house-robbery or car theft? What's after that?

About a month ago, some local kids from my neighborhood stole a scooter from a lady about 6 blocks over. Everyone knew who the thieves were- we heard them talking about it, saw leaving on foot in a gang with bolt cutters, and then saw them riding the stolen scooter around. We gave all this info to MPD. We also gave the location of the scooter to MPD. We did this every day for 5(!) days. Still, the scooter stayed in the neighborhood, and was ridden around each day by the kids. This continued for three days, 'till we let the air out of the tires. Then it stayed put for another 2 days 'till the owner, who the councilmember himself reached out to, called the police and came herself to collect it. She had filed a report the morning after it was stolen.

MPD dysfunction allowed the stolen scooter to be destroyed by miss-use. It deprived the owner of her transportation. It allowed the (relatively few) kids involved to go scott-free. It tempted many other kids, who saw the theives riding it for days, to participate in the criminal activity. It taught kids the wrong lessons. It eroded the confidence our entire neighborhood had in our government.

I'm sure that MPD could give many reasons for not quickly acting on the multiple complaints made over multiple days by multiple people. I can imagine them saying they couldn't find the scooter. I can imagine them saying they were too busy with "serious" crime. In the end, those excuses are of little value to anyone.

Posted by: Mark | July 26, 2006 1:37 PM

I believe the police not investigating this incident is a grave disservice to the community. Theft, of any type, is a crime. If the bike is worth more than $200, then it would be grand larceny, a felony (in VA). If a person stole a laptop from an unlocked car, wouldn't it be pursued as theft? Sure, the person should have locked the car and put the laptop out of sight, but just because they didn't do so, another person doesn't have the right to reach in and take it.

By that same logic:
a woman has the right to be raped because she is walking alone at night;
a cat can be mutilated and killed because it is outside;
a child can be molested because he is riding his bike on the sidewalk, alone;
a house can be burglarized because the front door is unlocked;
my bike or grill stolen because it isn't chained up in the yard.

I live in Fairfax County. My 12-year-old was with some kids outside. One had left his bike on the grass and my son said "I am going to take this for a ride" and rode off without permission. The child was angry about it and came to my house to say that my son rode off with his bike. When my son came home, I told him that taking something without permission was defined as "theft". Upon further investigation, the bike didn't actually belong to the complaintant, but he had taken it from his cousin who had stolen it from the local community center. I called the police, asking that they give the kids a stern talking to. The kids didn't know I called, so when the police showed up, they were pretty scared. He told them the consequences of theft. I told him that I was going to take the bike, in my SUV, to the police station to turn it in as opposed to returning it to thief #2. No incident like that has happened again, to my knowledge.

It infuriates me to hear statements like "kids will be kids" from bfulton. What are kids like? Theives? Vandals? Hoolums? Is this acceptable to anyone? If it is excused for kids, won't they be surprised when it isn't excused when they turn 18?

Either the bike should be returned, in the same condition it was stolen (yes, stolen) or financial restitution made. If the kids don't have the money, the parents are responsible. If the parents expect the kids to do yardwork to pay off the money, so be it. I would not accept yardwork in exchange for my bike.

I think the awkward situation arises when you live so close to someone who has perpetrated a crime and it is not brought to justice, one way or another. At the very least, I am sure the victim will not leave private property out again. How sad.

Posted by: Stacey | July 26, 2006 1:40 PM

"If the parents expect the kids to do yardwork to pay off the money, so be it."
should read:
If the parents expect the kids to do yardwork for the PARENTS to pay off the money, so be it.

Posted by: Stacey | July 26, 2006 1:44 PM

For God's sake, stop beating the horse. While the bike owner was unwise to leave it unlocked, a crime was committed and he may reasonably expect the police to address it.

I'm going to go out on a limb and posit that while the parents probably don't care much about their kids stealing bikes, they care even less about them stealing bikes from whitey. I doubt that public shame, whining on the internet, or anything short of police/law action will accomplish anything.

Pokomoke's root point, despite being inflammatory, was that an armed society is a polite society. The pervasive crime in the District would likely be less today had the criminal element been culled a little more decisively.

Speaking of which, how's Carl Rowan these days? Mmm mmm, love that "Gun control for everyone except me" attitude...

Posted by: Elwood | July 26, 2006 1:59 PM

You people sound like you want blood!

Geesh, why don't you just get a rope and a tree.

So sad how the human race functions.

Posted by: Frankey | July 26, 2006 2:02 PM

I don't agree with the negative comments about MPD!! Sunday two young men reported that one's bike had been stolen. They were waiting impatiently for police response. I told them it was not an emergency but that MPD would be there, probably withing 30 minutes. They got tired of waiting and went to Georgetown. Not 5 minutes later, a police car showed up !!!! I informed the officer that the boys had left and apologized. Really. I think MPD is VERY responsible and does come to the aid of non-emergency crimes. I felt very sorry the officer wasted his time on two affluent kids who couldn't be bothered to wait.

Posted by: ingbermr | July 26, 2006 2:03 PM

Sadly, even life-threatening crimes committed by under-18s don't seem to merit MPD attention. Remember the Washington City Paper story (and listserv postings - can't remember which neighborhood listserv) about the kids in some project around 13th/U Street/Florida Ave. throwing/dropping rocks - even CINDERBLOCKS - from balconies at bicyclists? I'm surprised no one's been killed.

I haven't heard that that activity has been stopped.

Would the police be more concerned about stopping it if it were adults throwing the projectiles? Is it cuter and sweeter and more adorable when it's a 12-year-old throwing the brick that kills you, rather than a 19-year-old?

Posted by: Law-Abiding Citizen | July 26, 2006 2:04 PM

How does your beleif square with my experience, related a few messages up?

Posted by: Mark | July 26, 2006 2:08 PM


The fact that Fox 5 hasn't reported a break in the case doesn't mean investigations never took place or were halted entirely-- there is rarely any follow-up once the shocking news is aired. And the MPD have been catching a decent amount of the folks responsible for crimes, vandalism, and murder lately. Throw the murder of the British diplomat aside, they followed up on leads to the murder committed the day after and caught the responsible folks in Suitland. If there is something to be blamed, it's the bureaucracy and the funding of these areas. You want to see some REAL fine police work? Move to PG county, you'd die for the MPD instead.

Posted by: Five | July 26, 2006 2:10 PM

Dear Mark: I don't know. I can only relate my experiences with MPD which have always been positive. I pay for a parking spot that is in an alley parking lot. People sometimes park in my spot. I called MPD on 311, spoke to a HUMAN BEING, and waited about 45 minutes in light rain. An officer showed up and gave a $30 ticket. I call that OK. Yes, it wasn't instantaneous. I hope response would be better for rape or murder. But for someone parking illegaly, that was OK by me.

I've also had my car broken into (twice) and learned not to leave ANYTHING in plain sight, not even a blanket in the back seat. I lock my bike always with a U lock, not a chain that can be clipped. Hello, you live in the city.

Posted by: ingbermr | July 26, 2006 2:17 PM

You know, as much as I think that MPD should be doing a little bit more, and as much as I think the parents should've publically punished their kids more (who really knows what they're doing privately), I do have to say, the guy was still a moron to leave his bike unlocked. He didn't deserve to be victimized, but it was still a stupid move on his part. I've heard all the arguments about how one should expect that one's property won't be stolen - whatever, it's a city. One of the tradeoffs of living in any city is that you'll see more crime. Just as it's not wrong to say that, even though the MPD may be overburdened, they still have an obligation to deal with "small" crimes such as this, it's also not wrong to call the person out for basically painting a target on his stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2006 2:32 PM

"an armed society is a polite society."

Indeed. Tombstone circa 1882 was known far and wide for its politesse.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 26, 2006 2:32 PM

It's been my experience that MPD does well with life-threatening issues, but response to less is spotty and, I believe, is best in areas with substantial commercial (economic) activity or in wealthy neighborhoods. Granted, the person who left thier bike unlocked was unwisely tempting fate. The issue at question is not that. I'm curious how the police response over a period of time, not whether they showed up 30 or 45 minutes after the call. Did they follow through after? Did they investigate and speak with the families involved? Why not?

Posted by: Mark | July 26, 2006 2:34 PM

A few years ago, I was hit in the crosswalk by a car that ran off. People around got the plates, and I was rushed to the ER. MPD did NOTHING. I was darn lucky I wasn't killed. I even (because I was lucky to know some City Council staffers) had Kathy Patterson's office call Chief Ramsey. NOTHING happened. I had to file a suit to pay some of my medical bills, and my lawyer found the guy easily -- we had the plates. I love living in NE. I lock my stuff up. I understand things are possibly dangerous, but I wouldn't expect MPD to do anything for anyone.

Posted by: Trinidad Resident | July 26, 2006 2:58 PM

If you werent so quick to be a wiseass, you would get your facts straight. If you want to make a case about the mpd catching people i'm not sure why you would throw that aside. However, he was not a diplomat(being British and being a diplomat are not the same thing, sorry) and they caught the people that night, within 4 hours I believe.

ingbermr- That is exactly the point, the cops DID show up and they DID do something about it in your case, which they have quite clearly not done in this case. Someone before mentioned that DC cops only break a sweat for a ticket, here is some evidence of that. And moreover, parking illegally, for which the police did respond, is not a crime but a traffic violation. The bike theft, for which the police did not respond, IS a crime and theoretically could result in jail time.(not that it is warranted, but it is allowed)

Posted by: all dc all the time | July 26, 2006 2:59 PM

I don't know how things work in D.C., but in Maryland you can just go to the court commissioner and swear out a criminal complaint which will result in criminal charges being placed. There's no need to even contact the police if you are certain that you know the name and address of the culprit. After the charges are filed, the State's Attorney will send a summons and copy of the charges to the defendent. This normally scares the defendent do much that they will do whatever the State's Attorney asks in order to have the charges dropped.

I'm sure there's something like a court commissioner which whom charges can be filed in D.C., just like in Maryland.

Posted by: Montgomery County Resident | July 26, 2006 2:59 PM

All DC:

Sorry, I was too busy tripping over myself trying to be a wiseass I guess. That's right, he wasn't a diplomat, as I incorrectly typed. He was a British citizen, Jewish, and an activist. The reason I threw that out was because it took place in one of the most affluent parts of the city, and the police (counter to usual operations) dispatched officers from every district to look into the matter. In fact, there was quite a bit of outcry, since it's never done in the POORER NEIGHBORHOODS. I threw that out because they jumped into the fray to help out a rich, white community. Yea, I'm sure that was the USUAL response, calling in officers from each ward to look for the killers. But you're certainly right, the fact that I mis-typed and labeled him a diplomat (British people and foreigners aren't automatically diplomats!?) certainly invalidates my argument! Enough of a wiseass for you?

Maybe you can actually addess the substance of my argument or the other posters arguments-- like whether or not the MPD is effective.

Posted by: Five | July 26, 2006 3:16 PM

Dear DC all the time:
I'm not exactly sure what point you are making. The ticket was written for illegally parking on private property. Probably that's more understandable if a car parked on a yard someone just paid mucho $$$ to a landscaper, but nevertheless, it is tresspassing.

And the squad car DID respond to the bike theft, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

Mark: your point is well-taken. Foggy Bottom is indeead a heavily patrolled area. I can't speak for MPD in other parts of town. Also, I don't know about follow up. We had a murder in my building, but it was solved in a short period.

Posted by: ingbermr | July 26, 2006 3:21 PM

I really like it here, it's just so enjoyable (and enlightening!) getting lectured by squishy suburbanites and rednecks from the Eastern Shore. Until I started reading today's entries I hadn't realized that I could just move to Kansas, or lobby everyone in DC to start packing heat to ensure my personal safety. More importantly, I hadn't considered the ineffable reasonableness of a universal policy of shooting every black kid under age 12 as a means of fighting future crime. Not only could I be safe today, but I could be safe next year, too!

Thank you all for the remarkable insights you've brought to this discussion, Pokymoky, Chuck, Dale City, etc...

Posted by: Everett | July 26, 2006 3:32 PM

Go around the neighborhood telling your side of the story and warning your neighbors about which of them are thieves. You won't get your bike back, but the thieves and their parents will become pariahs.

Posted by: Turnabout | July 26, 2006 3:37 PM

Hey, Lizzie-

And I suspect your knowledge of Tombstone c. 1882 comes from "Deadwood". Which I honestly hope isn't the case; it would be really sad for anyone to accept an HBO serial drama as an accurate depection of history.

True or false, I call non-sequitor on that: it's hardly valid to compare a frontier town of 125 years ago to a major, modern metro area.

I'd much rather be anywhere without gun control laws than with. Period.

Posted by: Elwood | July 26, 2006 3:37 PM

There are a few standout MPD officers, ones that really seem to care about the citizens. But by and large many do not. I live on the Hill, but much closer to the Capitol, in a much more affluent area. But that certainly doesn't guarantee me any better MPD response. I've had several attempted auto thefts. Each time MPD hasn't bothered to actually show up. Instead they tell me to call back and file a report by phone. No dusting for fingerprints, no checking the scene, no nothing. And in several instances it took me several days to file a report by phone, as I could never actually get someone available to take the report.

Several years ago I learned to just stop calling MPD. Instead I call Capitol Police. They show up very quickly, they are courteous, and they get the job done.

A previous poster asked why DC cops don't walk the beat. I've been asking that for years. I've even asked Chief Ramsey, in an online WP chat. He said that they do, in my neighborhood. That is sheer nonsense. I work from home, and I can tell you that in five years plus I've never seen a single instance of an MPD officer getting out of his vehicle, unless it's to pick up his drycleaning.

You cannot effectively prevent crime from inside your police car. You must get out, get to know the people - get to know who lives where, who the neighborhood hooligans are and where they disappear to, etc.

I've known several terrific MPD officers. Sadly, they were the exception.

Posted by: Hillman | July 26, 2006 4:31 PM

its all about respect. and you have to represent.

like when someone insults your girl.

so just do some damage to their property that equals twice the value of your bike.

its the only way to get satisfaction at this point. but if you're too righteous for it, just forget about it. no one's gonna care

Posted by: no respect | July 26, 2006 4:53 PM

Great idea, 4:53 poster. That way things just escalate.

Neighbor #1 steals neighbor's bike;
Neighbor #2 throws rocks at neighbor's windows;
Neighbor #1 punctures neighbor's tires and smashes a windsheild;
Neighbor #2 poisons neighbor's dog;
Neighbor #1 sets neighbor's car on fire;
Neighbor #2 runs over neighbor's child...

When does it stop? It won't if that is the route you take.

Posted by: Stacey | July 26, 2006 5:05 PM

So a lot of trashing of the MPD has been done here. It's easy to blame them but I think they do what they can. There are always some bad apples.

What I find ironic is if the kids had been hauled away in handcuffs or something like that, there would be an equal number of people complaining about police brutality, that kids are only kids and that it was an overreaction.

I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation for someone to leave his/her bike on their own property and expect to still find it there upon their return. It's also not unrealistic for the kids to not want to cooperate.

Posted by: Poster xyz | July 26, 2006 5:22 PM

Whether this individual locked up their bike is not the point. The problem is two fold; first, you have parents who know their kids did something wrong, but are not really trying to corect their children's behavior. Of course, when these kids get busted for something serious they are going to cry that it was a frame job.

Second, you have a police dept. that is so off from what the trouble is that they focus on closing the door after the bull has run out. This is the broken window theory. When you start cracking down on minor crimes, major ones start declining.

DC needs a better police force. Perhaps it is time for Ramsey to go.

Posted by: Tired of it | July 26, 2006 5:30 PM

What is a "bama"?

If this is a racial slur, why is the posting from 9:53 still there?

If not, could someone tell me its (innocent) meaning?

Posted by: Fairfax County | July 26, 2006 6:13 PM

"Go around the neighborhood telling your side of the story and warning your neighbors about which of them are thieves. You won't get your bike back, but the thieves and their parents will become pariahs."

Only do this if you are planning on moving SOON.

In Montgomery County if you reported this you could expect a visit from an officer in your district. He would talk to you, and talk to the people you think were involved. Baring any good proof he would put everybodies names into his notebook, and most likely into a confidential database back at the station.

If the kids get in trouble again this incident would be factored in, although for underaged children everything is subjective.

But, barring PROOF the police would not swoop in and bring your bike back.

Police or not, we live in communities. You have to learn to deal with these things yourselves. That means not leaving stuff out, establishing casual relationships -- and being friendly. It doesn't mean assuming that neighborhood kids and their parents are criminals.

Posted by: Rose | July 26, 2006 7:25 PM

Fairfax County:

"Bama" basically means someone who looks/acts incredibly dumb/naive, has no common sense, etc. Back when it first started being used, it was short for "Alabama," and meant someone from the south coming up north and trying to fit in, but not succeeding, and later morphed into meaning someone who is seriously behind the times (ie, "It's 2006, what's that bama doing wearing Members Only?").

If you're still confused, think about it this way: when Ted Stevens described the internet as a series of tubes but not a dump truck, he sounded like a straight up bama.

Posted by: hope this helps | July 26, 2006 7:32 PM

I also have had bad experiences with MPD but I don't necessarily blame the officers. Here's why.

The politicians refuse to support long sentences or any significantly deterrent penalty for property crime. DC juries very frequently don't convict, DC judges very frequently don't take property crimes seriously, and DC prosecutors are too few and too badly paid to focus on property crimes (they have too many violent crimes in their dockets). The police quickly learn that the threat to punish a kid for a bike theft is a hollow threat, and since cops don't like hollow threats -- which ruin their street credibility, making their jobs more difficult and even more dangerous -- they lose enthusiasm for enforcing laws against property theft. Ever notice how easy it is for kid joyriders in DC to walk away from a car theft or even a carjacking, when they are caught? Notice that this doesn't happen in VA? The reason is that you'll go to prison forever in VA, and the judicial system means business.

Cops are rational people who don't want to waste their credibility and time. This doesn't excuse the crime or the cops' dereliction, but it does explain both as rational behavior. If you want to change that behavior, you have to change lots more than the cops on the beat. I know this isn't a quick solution. It is, sadly, the truth.

Getting tough on crime means getting tough on the whole criminal justice system, and paying for it. Good luck, DC, we are rooting for you.

Posted by: Arlington resident | July 26, 2006 8:05 PM

Call my friend Repairman Jack. Tell him Julio sent you.

Posted by: Julio | July 26, 2006 9:32 PM

It seems the 1st District Commander Groomes got involved; two officers dealt with the boy; the bike has been returned; and the person who filed the complaint is satisfied. Too bad the person who had the bike stolen didn't say the issue had been resolved. But then we wouldn't have had such an interesting article and comments.

Posted by: DC Biker | July 26, 2006 11:28 PM

Next time this happens call the Counter Terrorism Unit and we'll cut through all this crap and teach the boy a lesson he won't forget.

--Jack Bauer

Posted by: Can't Give My Real Name | July 27, 2006 5:47 AM

I live east of Lincoln Park on the Hill. I call the MPD about once every two months, mostly to respond to nuisance issues (loitering on private property, drunk & disorderly, etc...). On average, when I call the non-emergency 311 number, I get a response of 1-2 cruisers within 10 minutes of calling.

I think MPD does pretty well, all things considered. I also agree w/ have to do a better job of prosecution & sentencing. This would free up officers to concentrate on "new" criminals instead of repeatedly nabbing the same old faces.


Posted by: ibc | July 27, 2006 12:14 PM

This is really nothing new, children ripping off their neighbors, proximity and opportunity you know, but that doesn't help when you're the one being ripped off.

The only thing I ever did that had any response, was one night several years ago, I went outside to see what my dogs were barking about and found that a group of neighborhood kids had snatched a large plastic snowman from my neighbor's Christmas display. I yelled at the kids, and finished with "You might want to think about just who's birthday it is we're celebrating" (or words to that effect) and the kid holding the snowman dropped it like a hot potato.

Posted by: Claire | July 27, 2006 2:11 PM

So glad the guy got his bike back! Thanks to whoever finally took care of it! Was it really 1st District Commander Groomes, after all? Don't take Pocomoke so seriously, folks. That's just how we country boys talk. A lot of us are from peaceful towns where lots of people own guns. But I don't think he really believes that a proliferation of firearms is the right solution here. He's just ribbing y'all and you fell for it.
I really like the post from No Respect. This is a perfect recitation of a prison code of conduct. When you have to behave like a prisoner to live in a neighborhood, it is time to move out. But as more and more people move out, you end up with a higher and higher proportion of really messed-up people. This is how a neighborhood dies. If you want law-abiding, productively employed, tax-paying citizens living in a neighborhood, you have to make it a safe place to live. If you don't, the neighborhood is doomed. Some people are young and fearless, but most of us tired old people would rather live in NYC post-Giuliani than pre-Giuliani. Without public safety, you have nothing, and this is true from DC to Baghdad.

Posted by: kt | July 27, 2006 5:06 PM

When I was thirteen, I went shopping with some girls my age. There were about six or seven of us. Anyway, the other girls were stealing as we were in a department store, and I had no idea they were stealing.

Anyway, security caught them, and when they frisked and checked me, I had nothing. They called every parent, and set up the theives for counseling. My mother asked the police to treat me as the accomplice I was, even though I did not know to teach me a lesson. To this very day, if I find something I will return it, and lucky enough there have been time when i've lost things or left a purse on a bus bench, and returned to find it still there.

These young men stole a bike. They commited a petty crime, depending on how much the bike cost. If the police do not want to do anything about it, when they start stealing cars, identities, and the repurcussions to the victims continuously grow, the delinquency of these kids need to be put to a hault now, it's not a silly matter, it's a serious matter.

In some places they could be shot for stealing something from someone's property. Not addressing this will only increase juvenile misbehavior.

They should at least return the bike. (I had my shiny new fuschia bike stolen as a kid and saw the bad children riding around on it. I was afraid, but the police did return the bike to me eventually.)

Posted by: learned a lesson... | July 27, 2006 5:13 PM

I like the small claims lawsuit idea. Don't mess around with these punks, OR their toxic parents.

Posted by: andrew | July 31, 2006 4:36 PM

I live near KC, MO and we are experiencing the same problem with the kids, the poor parenting, the cops disinterest and the courts inappropriate sentencings. A few of my neighbors and I are almost inclined to go the vigilante route. However, the laws that govern this state and therefore the city are purposely ambiguous and are too open to personal interpretation by everyone involved. This usually means we don't get satisfaction nor recompense for broken or stolen items.
The best deterrent I have found is a combination of things:
audio/video surveillance systems, more frequent patrolling by the police and more neighbors making a point of being visible to these kids (young and old) at crucial times. There is a good program sponsored by police departments that involve members of the community training for (about 18 hours) personal patrolling of the neighborhood.
No one wants a witness to their crimes, so make witnesses appear at the most inopportune times. This isn't foolproof but it does cut down on a lot of activity.

Posted by: Darla | August 2, 2006 6:32 AM

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