Saturday night I went out to water things down a bit. It usually helps to do that when it’s still at or near 90 degrees after dark.
I noticed a group of boys coming down the alley who looked to be about middle school aged. Kids come down the alley all the time so it barely got my attention. But when they paused behind the double panel of our fence I waited.
By this time, I was closer to the front yard than the back, making it both hard to see and almost impossible to intervene. A bigger boy soon joined the crowd and they started straight down the alley, away from This D*mn House. As they went, one knocked over my neighbors’ trash can. Its contents spilled in the alley.
Before I could get close enough to yell, they were already two or more doors down. Another picked up that neighbors’ trash can and hefted it into a yard across the way. As I started toward the backyard, headlights appeared at the end of the alley where the fearsome foursome were headed. I couldn’t see what had transpired.
As I walked to the edge of our driveway, trying to see what was going on down the alley, I noticed a strange light under my neighbor across the alley’s truck. As I walked toward it to investigate, I found a solar yard light, absent its base, laying broken in the alley. A fully intact one was under my neighbor’s truck, its light fully functioning. I recognized these as belonging to my next door neighbor. I put both lights on his back porch. (He was apparently at work.)
As I made my way back to my yard, I saw a minivan rounding the corner. It slowed and then stopped. “Hey, did you see those kids go by?” a young guy called to me.
“I sure did,” I said.
Turns out, he’s a teacher who lives across the road and a few blocks over. He said he knew all of those kids and that he had seen them a little bit ago and wondered what they were up to so he came to see. I told him about the trashcans and the lights. He told me the name and the address of the “ringleader” just in case anything else happened. The biggest boy lives with his grandmother and "she probably has no idea what he's out doing," the teacher said. He said he was going to call the police as soon as he got home and rat out all of the little hoodlums.
I doubt that it will do any good, but I’m glad he was doing it. We both laughed, commenting what our respective mothers would have done to us had we been caught vandalizing people’s property. It's summer and they're bored but when did kids get the idea that destroying property was a way to relieve it? Or, I guess, when and where did they get the idea that it's OK to do this?
Growing up, we weren't saints but we didn't willfully destroy people's property either.
Guess I’m going to be patrolling regularly for a while.