Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Ruin Your Life in Three Easy Steps



The neighborhood we live in is bounded on two sides by rather large apartment complexes. While our small neighborhood is very stable—families move in and like to stay—the apartments attract a more transient population.

Lately, within the past year, the foot traffic through our neighborhood has increased dramatically. It seemed to pick up when one of the neighbors, whose house backs on the one apartment parking lot, cut down a paper bark willow tree. The tree had blocked a direct line of sight—when it was standing, you could not look through to see the apartments. After the tree was down, you can look right through and actually see an apartment balcony. Maybe that clear shot view has encouraged local teens to walk through.

Where we live is within one mile of the local high school, which means at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, quite of few teens are walking through our neighborhood.

So what, you might say. To answer, let me take you back to last winter. Two doors down from our house is our neighborhood’s Good Neighbor Sam. He is the one who breaks the curve for the neighbors. He mows his lawn twice in one week, he clips his shrubbery meticulously. He is seemingly not happy unless he has a project of some sort going. He came out on a winter morning, started his car and went back in his house briefly. In that flash of a moment, a teen walking through the neighborhood saw the running car, and decided to “borrow” it. The car was quickly found by local police, in the high school parking lot. But there was no way of telling who took it.

Until yesterday. Yesterday was a non-teaching day for me, so I was sleeping in, a bit, when I was awakened by my furiously barking dog. She was on our sun porch looking out the window and up the street. So, I looked too. There were two police cars, my neighbor Good Neighbor Sam and his dog, and another neighbor. With them was a young man, sitting on the curb. Shortly three more local police cars drove up.

It seems the kid—because that’s what he is—had taken the car back last winter, kept the keys, then decided to take it again two days ago. Good Neighbor Sam found it at the high school again, and went out and bought a club. Then yesterday morning, the kid walked through again, decided to jump in the car, saw the club, promptly jumped out—but this time he was seen by Good Neighbor Sam, and another neighbor. Case solved.

Except for the kid who has totally screwed up his life. Sadly, it was even someone I had seen in the neighborhood several times before and talked to, trying to be friendly. And, ironically, he was not an apartment resident, not a transient, but someone whose family has lived nearby for many years. Life ruined.
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13 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

Ya wonder what they're thinking, but then you realize that they aren't. Perhaps he's underage and won't carry a record?

KGMom said...

AC--he's on the cusp. The kid is 17; PA law--18 is age of majority, but he could be tried as an adult. If I can, I will follow the case.

Ginger said...

Wow. How disappointing. What a heartbreak for the lad's parents. And I'm thinking Good Neighbor Sam has to be feeling some sense of justice at catching his thief.

NCmountainwoman said...

I do hope someone can help this young man, because he'll never make it stealing cars. He drove straight to the high school? And came back two days later? Almost makes you wonder if he wanted to get caught.

So sad for the Good Neighbor, for the parents of the young man, and for the thief himself. And sad, as well, for all who live in the neighborhood.

Dog_geek said...

Hard to fathom what could have been going through that kid's head, but I doubt that his life is as ruined as it may seem right now. Society tends to be pretty forgiving of adolescent transgressions. I know a few brilliant scientists and highly paid lawyers who got themselves into much worse messes during their misspent youths. This kid could still turn things around. (I'm glad I'm not his mother right now, though!)

JeanMac said...

I have a security system on the Hon*a but always use the club - my neighbors just had their lovely, rather new SUV stolen and trashed - those guys can steal anything - and I can't break into my house when locked out!(Like Mary)

egretsnest said...

What a shame. And, what a stupid, stupid kid. Sigh. Sounds like a situation with no winners. Sad.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am stunned that an attempted car theft warrants five police cars (possibly 10 officers. The kid must have been black. Did they taser him. The response was worthy of the police responses I witnessed when I lived in the black community of Boston and later New Haven. (I think my lack of respect for the police is showing:))

Were I grew up we never ever locked our doors, even when we went away on holidays. I still don't.

I tried to lock my door when I lived in urban American but that didn't keep out those desperate for something to sell to get a drug fix.

If the kid is treated right this could be his last act of theft.

I was caught once stealing some money. The store owner threatened to tell my mother if I ever tried it again. To possibly disappoint my mother was deterent enough for me. To hear her say, "Oh, Philip, I am so disappointed in you." was the worst punishment imaginable.

KGMom said...

Philip--the kid was white. Each police car had a single officer. So, while I understand your presuppositions, the scene was much calmer than one might envision. In fact, your presumptions were mine. That's why I was surprised that the kid lived in a house and his family were long time residents in the area.

Ruth said...

Two weeks ago 4 junior high boys from our street were arrested for a night time vandalism spree that included numerous slashed tires (including my daughter's car), car break ins, and removed hood ornaments. We have never had an issue like this in 30 years of living in the neighbourhood. I hope the boys learn from this encounter and do not continue in a criminal life. So sad if a young like is wasted.

Ginnie said...

We have got to turn our Nation around. I know that it's taken years to get here and that no one party is to blame...but if we could have spent a quarter of the money that has been wasted in Iraq on the problems here we might have started at least.
It's discouraging to read your post and I hope that will be the end of it.

Beverly said...

That is sad.

Mauigirl said...

A kid on the next block from us (age 16) was recently arrested for breaking into his neighbors' houses. Luckily he hadn't made it to our street. I think a lot of local crime is often due to people who live in the area. It's sad. I've probably seen the kid walking to school.