Teenagers' Fun Can Escalate into Criminal Behavior

By Cearnal, Deborah | The Florida Times Union, April 16, 2005 | Go to article overview

Teenagers' Fun Can Escalate into Criminal Behavior


Cearnal, Deborah, The Florida Times Union


Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL, Clay County Line

Nights of fun by teenagers have turned into crime sprees, and investigators recommend parents keep closer tabs on their children.

Two juvenile boys were arrested in March, accused of vandalizing the maintenance building at the Golf Club of Fleming Island.

The boys, one 14 and one 15, were caught early last month when Clay County Deputy E.R. Kroh saw them at the facility while he was on his regular patrol. At first the youths ran from Kroh, but stopped when ordered to. One boy's backpack contained six rolls of toilet paper, a can of white spray paint, two pairs of rubber gloves, two kitchen knives, a yellow flashlight and four butane cigarette lighters, reports say.

It was at this time that the boys admitted to damaging the building about three weeks earlier. They said they had returned "to look at the building to see what damage they had done during the previous incident," a sheriff's office report said.

It's that earlier event that has Troy Albers, general manager of Fleming Island Golf Course, fuming.

"Parents can't be on their kids, 24/7, but they need to be aware of what they are up to," Albers, who has been at the club since it opened 4 1/2 years ago, said in a phone interview. "Kids won't do it if their parents are watching them.

"We and any other business aren't going to put up with it."

According to Detective Heather Pierce of the Clay County Sheriff's office, the boys used a fire extinguisher to break a window to get into the maintenance facility, where they spray-painted the interior of the building and a tractor there and started fires at the front door, near the employee break room and in a toilet. Also while inside, police said, they stuck a propane tank in the microwave oven, turned it on, then turned it off.

"They realized they could have done extreme damage [with the propane tank in the microwave]," Pierce said, noting she did not think the boys realized they also put their lives in danger.

Outside, they flattened the tires on the ball retriever and painted graffiti on it, on signs on the golf course and driving range and on the ball cleaner. They cut hoses and broke an electronic device that controls the sprinkler system, Pierce said.

Total damage: $15,000, Albers said.

Each boy was arrested on a possession of burglary tools charge, which is a felony, and a loitering charge, which is a misdemeanor, records show. They could, however, face felony charges of burglary and criminal mischief, Pierce said.

NOT JUST A PRANK

In January, four Lakeside Junior High School girls were arrested after the Eagle Harbor slumber party they attended escalated into a vandalism and burglary spree that occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. …

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