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Old 06-06-2012, 01:21 AM
 
5,703 posts, read 15,481,614 times
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So I have a situation that I am unsure how to handle and wouldn't mind some insight from fellow parents. We moved to our neighborhood about 4 yrs. Its a quiet sub in a semi rural area that is attached to 3 other subdivisions that are about the same size as ours. About 50-100 homes each. Upon moving in there really isn't a big sense of community. It is mostly professionals that keep to themselves except for the occasional social get together that the HOA puts up around the holidays. The HOA is pretty tame and to be completely honest a notch above useless. There isn't much to take care of so the yearly meetings are filled with big ideas that never come to fruition. It took forever for a website to be put up and even then not much is being said on it until recently.

Most of the families have very small children and only a handful have teenagers. Our son is a teen and has admitted the few kids his age in our sub are not very friendly and somewhat troublemakers so he keeps his distance. Over the span of the last year there has been an increase in vandalism in the neighborhood. Its somewhat of a sleepy sub as most people spend their time hanging out in the back of their homes as we all have similar layouts. Family room and kitchens in the back. No one ever seems to see anything happening except me as I actually use my front room often. When I do see neighbors and question that I see teens walking around late at night they seem mystified and somewhat disinterested, well until something happens to their car or home. This area has almost zero crime and everyone seems a bit complacent. "not gonna happen to me" mentality.

We have a small park with playground equipment that has been vandalized more than once. Sometimes the damage is extensive and others times not, but either way it eats at the HOA reserve funds. No one knows who is doing it. If it is kids in our sub or the others. Neighbors that live close to the park have had things happen to their homes as well. The damage and tactics are getting bolder. A few neighbors have found window screens cut, patio furniture moved under windows and so forth. So recently an incident occurred where a fair amount of damage was done to the playground as well as a neighboring house. Over dinner I was telling my husband of the latest news when my son perked up and said he had heard about it. I asked him how and he said a friend of his talks to this boy in our sub. The boy was bragging about his handy work via text message. This boy and older sibling also brag about how they are able to scale down the sloped roof outside their bedroom windows and sneak out at night. I don't know the people in my sub very well but have heard stories of this particular family. The parents are flakes and have been non payers of the HOA fees for over several years. Their home is also an eye sore. My son said this boy and his older sibling are somewhat bullish and he avoids them. When we first moved in, naive me looked out and saw my son talking to these two kids. I thought how sweet he was making friends, then I could hear what was being said and basically the kids were messing with him (our first welcome to the neighborhood incident).

The HOA president made an announcement on the website that he hopes the vandals will be caught as this is becoming a big problem. The sheriff dept promised to step up patrols but we live among miles of farmland so I can't see them spending a whole lot of time driving through our tiny sub at all hours of the night. The county is pretty big. There was talk of a neighborhood watch but since the incident in FL some have expressed no one wants any sort of liability.

So here is my dilemma. I would like to let the HOA president know of this information I have but I do not want to throw my son under the bus either. No one really knows me well and I don't know them. I do not understand juvenile law and I don't think hearsay is going to get much accomplished. I thought about sending an anonymous letter of the details about the incident. Details that seem rather credible so I am thinking this boy bragging has some truth to it. Punk kids love bragging about their escapades. So Im conflicted. I think something should be done about these kids as I have had my car egged and other minor damage occur. Im sick of it however since I don't see a whole lot of action among the neighbors or sheriff dept, I am not willing to put my son out there as the tattle tale. The last thing I want is his final high school years being a nightmare or my home being a bigger target. We actually might move after our son graduates. Its an odd place to live. Kind cold and aloof.

So what would you do? Send a letter anonymously? Not say anything?
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:26 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
39,014 posts, read 37,656,456 times
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Yes, send the letter, and send a copy to the sheriff. They cannot ignore it. This is property damage, and perhaps attempted burglary (with the cut screens??!) Good grief. What's next? What will it take to get people to care?

Are you paying dues to the HOA? How is the playground equipment funded? If nothing else, threaten to sue for misuse of your funds because they aren't properly managing the income by not properly caring for the equipment (constantly replacing/repairing beyond the normal schedule??) the neighbors all are paying for.

Summertime does see more incidents like this, with kids out of school. Even so, someone has to step up. Perhaps YOU should form the neighborhood watch group yourself.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:58 AM
 
Location: The Hall of Justice
25,907 posts, read 34,966,446 times
Reputation: 42368
I don't know if the cops can do anything about hearsay, even in nicely written in a letter ("My son told me that another boy said ..."), but it can't hurt to try, I guess.

I would have suggested organizing a neighborhood watch, but it sounds like your other neighbors don't care. Nobody but you is upset by egged cars, slashed window screens, and property damage? What happened to the playground?
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:17 AM
 
Location: El Dorado Hills, CA
3,670 posts, read 7,972,766 times
Reputation: 3748
The police can't file charges with the letter, but they certainly can show up at the house and talk to the kids and parents. For "most" people, that would be enough to get it to stop. If you're afraid to get your kid involved, make it anonymous...but that does lose value. The HOA can't really do anything except maybe get some security cameras recording the park for a month or so to see if they can catch it on tape.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Morrisville, NC
7,691 posts, read 10,062,057 times
Reputation: 6909
If a neighboring home also got damaged this last time, perhaps that neighbor might be willing to let the HOA buy one of the $200 4 camera surveilance setups and host it at his house for a while, pointed at the playground?
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:06 AM
 
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 38,288,152 times
Reputation: 16098
I would talk with the police. They should certainly keep their "sources" anonymous. Perhaps a visit from the police will be enough to stop the activity.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,631 posts, read 53,468,042 times
Reputation: 18533
If there were text messages, the police can retrieve them even if the kid deleted them from his phone (from the server). If you don't trust the police to keep your name out of it, send the anonymous letter. In small towns/counties, it can be hard to be kept confidential as there is always someone who thinks the one person they tell won't tell anyone else.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:32 AM
 
2,613 posts, read 4,101,590 times
Reputation: 1869
anonymous letter or even email message (from a throwaway account at the public library). If that doesn't work, try posting an anonymous message on your neighborhood's website. That should get the attention of the kids parents.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:34 AM
 
5,703 posts, read 15,481,614 times
Reputation: 8514
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJulia View Post
I don't know if the cops can do anything about hearsay, even in nicely written in a letter ("My son told me that another boy said ..."), but it can't hurt to try, I guess.

I would have suggested organizing a neighborhood watch, but it sounds like your other neighbors don't care. Nobody but you is upset by egged cars, slashed window screens, and property damage? What happened to the playground?
One lady at the last HOA meeting suggested a neighborhood watch. She asked for volunteers. I raised my hand and she seemed pleased. So I thought, wow we might actually get something going. That was about 6 months ago. I have emailed, put suggestions on the website. Crickets. Then I heard that some have expressed concern about liability due to what happened in FL. So I think the idea is going to fizzle out. We actually had an incident a couple of months ago where I heard a door trying to be opened. It was late at night and Im always up. Called the police and I later heard they caught up the with some kids and instead of taking them in, they called parents. I called the police to find out if anything was done, I was told it was taken care of. Well I don't think an attempted B&E warrants a phone call to a parent. How about jail? That would scare them more even if its for an hour or two. What does that teach kids especially if the parents let kids run loose at all hours of night?

So I don't get this warm and fuzzy feeling that I would have some backup if I were to say something outright. Know what I mean? Especially if nothing is done about it and then we become targets and people turn a blind eye and secretly be glad its not them. Even my husband that is no wallflower isn't so sure how to handle this. We want the little sheet heads to get busted but if we didnt witness anything, then not sure how much weight our info really has. In terms of the damage they kick or break the stuff where wood and other components need to be replaced. I have heard that the HOA sued a previous parent a couple of years ago for vandalism. Not sure who the kid was or who the parents were. Might be people that have moved out. The HOA is volunteer and I guess we go through presidents on a frequent basis. No one wants to do it and apparently our covenants are stone age. No one ever changed them from when the builder set them up. Basically old laws that don't fit our problems of today. Its kind of a mess as now a good collection of people stopped paying their dues (which are not that much per year). So burning through the reserves is going to be an issue. Some (that don't have kids) have suggested the park be torn out. From what I understand a new prez gets in, is all excited about changing things and then realizes the covenants are a mess. To change them requires 80% of the neighbors to say yes. A big drive took place the year or two before I moved in and it looked like it was going to go through and then it fizzled out. Some feared the change and voted no at the last minute.
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Mokelumne Hill, CA & El Pescadero, BCS MX.
6,958 posts, read 18,528,984 times
Reputation: 6356
Most law enforcement agencies have an anonymous tip line. If yours does, I suggest you use it.
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