Dear PoPville – What Would You Do?


“Dear, PoPville

What would you do?

I’d like to start this out by saying I have lived relatively peacefully in DC for the last 14 years and when I purchased my LeDroit Park home in June I received an enthusiastic and warm welcome from all my neighbors- some long time DC families and some new. I purchased a former college party house and have over the past year spent most of my time and money restoring it to the beauty it once was. Anyway, neighbors have recently witnessed kids (12ish years old) stealing Amazon packages off my front porch and some plants and landscaping have occasionally, and seemingly intentionally, gotten trampled. Yesterday, I was leaving the house with my boyfriend and three young boys (maybe in the 12 year old range) called us [email protected] as they passed. I thought to myself, “No, I must have misheard them” until one of the boys said, “He just called you a [email protected], especially the one on the bike (me).”

Now I honestly didn’t know how to react because it’s pretty obvious I spend a lot of time at the gym and any 20-40 year old would never think to say that to me knowing I’d beat the living #$&! out of them. But what are you supposed to do with kids?! If it was me growing up, someone would have dragged me to my mother’s house by my ear and she would have publically beaten the fear of a thousand deaths into me… but right or wrong, times have changed.

Well, we let it go and kept walking till a minute or two later we realized we forgot something at home. We returned to the house to find the small fence in my tree box kicked over, bent, and trampled, along with some of the plants. Now we technically didn’t see the kids do it and I guess any random adult could have passed by and vandalized my property in those 120 seconds but let’s be real

Now, honestly I could care less what these kids are doing with their time and frankly I’ve got more important things to be doing with mine- but I’m not going anywhere and I don’t want to start a long annoying tradition of annoying neighborhood kids messing with my stuff.

So aside from maybe taking a photo of them, starting a police report, and/or trying to find the kids’ parents, what would you do? Try and talk some sense into them then come home to a brick thrown into my front window? Ignore them and hope they’ll stop stealing my stuff?”

160 Comment

  • Set up a camara on your front porch. Film these brats and then email to either the ANC or the middle school they attend to identify them.

  • Yes. Take a picture of them and then print out flyers with their pictures with the caption, “We still pee in our beds at night.”

  • skip the parents, they don’t care, i’d go straight to the cops. there is a reason 14 year olds in dc have guns and are shooting people at the zoo. the cops may not care, but at least it’ll be recorded. Set up surveillance too, and catch them in the act.

    • Some parents do care and would be horrified to know the trouble their kids are into.

      • doesn’t seem like these kid’s parents would. and if the parents do care, the cops showing up will be an even more frightening situation for the kids and the parents. even better for the little shits imo.

    • Apparently, you don’t need to do anything because Anonymous here knows the parents and the kids. He can predict what will happen!

      As for the 14 year old at the zoo, if he had been white and shot people at a zoo in Ohio, all we’d be talking about his mental health issues. See CT, Pittsburgh, etc.

    • I don’t know – a lot of us have done really really stupid crap when we were kids/teenagers and turned into good, productive members of society, probably because the criminal justice system was NOT involved. A good ass kicking and then taking the kid to their parents might be a good 1-2. Or just follow them home and then talk to the parents.

      • so you think its better for this guy to assault some kids than them getting a slap on the wrist from the police? totally makes sense, good advice!

        • Thanks!

          Involving the police is a much better way to permanently negatively impact the lives of these children.

          • teens in the hood hardly qualify as children anymore.

          • Soooo….we shouldn’t call the police to deal with criminals because it will “permanently negatively impact their lives”? HAHAHAHAHAHA Wow, that was a great one.

        • Also, I think my sarcasm didn’t show through. Regardless, I think involving the police is a terrible idea.

      • Amen to that. As studies have shown (see the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative at the Annie E. Casey Foundation) the criminal justice system tends to make kids a lot worse. Those of us who are more privileged and do stupid stuff get dealt with in a different and more productive way that doesn’t involve the police.

  • I would unmove to Ledroit Park.

  • Have you considered talking to your friendly neighbors? I would describe what happened and ask if they know the kids. You could then hopefully talk to their parents.

    Ask your neighbors if they could help look out for your yard/fence etc. You could then agree to do the same for them as well. Talk to them about what strategies they have used with the kids in the neighborhood. If you enlist help, you show respect for their experience in the neighborhood as well as proving that you want to work with the community.

    • I second this. Especially if there are neighborhood “matriarchs” you could approach, it’s possible they know the kids’ families and would spread the word that way. I’m not suggesting that the kids should be allowed to get away with the crap….just an approach that might have the practical effect of ending the problem without causing more animosity/damage for you/your property.

      • ItsPetworthIt

        Agreed! In order of: matriarchs, parents, school, then police if needed.

        • ItsPetworthIt

          I also agree with the “ignore the insults” part, deal with the legal stuff. As long as it’s just the “children’ being bullies. If it expands, then it can become a significant issue.

    • I agree re: talking to neighbors to try to identify the parents (and then talking to the parents). However, I would simultaneously call the police and make a report to get this on record. I would definitely get a surveillance camera, as well.

    • +1
      I wouldn’t write off the parents until you’ve tried. Maybe skip the dragging-kids-home-by-ears part, though.

    • Best advice by far – use your friends in the neighborhood and their more lengthy history with your fellow neighbors to help you out.
      Now as far as hearing some street punks toss out epithets and insults (whether at your direction or not) – its the adult thing to do to correct them. Similar thing happened a few years ago in Petworth when a transgender woman was called all sorts of names by a pack of young boys. My friend and I stopped and told those kids 1) it was incredibly rude, 2) that woman was doing nothing wrong and 3) they’d probably not like it if someone was calling them equally offensive names. While I wish it was Mayberry and they said they were sorry – they didn’t – but they did hear what I said even if they chose to try to escalate it.
      What your response in the future will be is up to you – humor or straight talk – but I suggest you correct this behavior.

      • ItsPetworthIt

        For me, a major consideration is if there is a level of threat. And, how to respond in an appropriate way that isn’t just insulting them back (or giving them fuel for entertainment).

        It’s different when standing up for someone else.

  • I know you don’t want to stir the pot in your neighborhood, but I think you should try to get a photo of the kid(s), make a flyer with their pictures and their transgressions, and leave one on every door explaining that before you get the police involved in any future incidents, you’re giving the kids a chance to come forward, apologize, and do some yard work. Obviously, they or their parents probably won’t do the right thing, but maybe it will at least get them to stop. I second the suggestion to get local schools involved.

  • I have no experience with this so others could chime in, but you should consider calling the gay and lesbian liaison unit at MPD – basically this is a hate crime, and can be prosecuted. Too bad they’re starting young, but that’s reality sometimes.

    • pablo .raw

      They may have experience with similar cases.

    • They gay and lesbian task force are also a million times more response, helpful, and empathetic. I’d advise anyone to call them, even if you’re not gay, to avoid being treated like a criminal.

    • Agreed. As offensive as the statements are, they don’t rise to the level of hate crime and would be considered free speech as portrayed by the OP. If the kids said, “Hey f#gg#t, I’m going to kick your ass/kill you/[insert thread of violence]!” that would rise to a hate crime due to the threat.
      Regardless, these kids need to get their asses handed to them.

  • I also live in LeDroit Park and have also had amazon packages stolen. I now strongly suspect it must be by the same kids. Please contact the police about this. I did but couldn’t identify who was responsible because I didn’t witness it.

  • Yup. Video surveillance. Also, they sell secure package drop boxes for your porch.

  • The weather is lovely. Go to Costco, stock up on soda and lemonade and snack foods, and host an open house. Get to know the neighbors even better – some of whom are their parents. Share the stories of what has happened. It shouldn’t be you against everyone, that’s not fair to you. And I am sorry that this is happening to you.

    • Yes. The parents of these kids will come to an open house and drink tea and eat crumpets. Good call.

      • On my block, we have worked hard to get to know each other and are all very close. We look out for each other. I am two blocks from Ledroit Park. It can work, and is worth a try.

      • ItsPetworthIt

        I wouldn’t be too quick to judge the parents because the teenagers are delinquents… or to write-off the parents’ influence. Maybe they could curtail the kid’s obnoxious behavior in this particular regard if they get reprimanded. Or maybe not, but worth a try.

    • brilliant, invite them inside to vandalize and steal from your whole house, not just the outdoors!

  • Sorry about the unfortunate incident. Those kids reflect the ignorance of their peers and society, and likely suffer from innatentive parents. I am a black man and I’ve faced a lot of verbal negativity in my years too. Be thankful the assault was not physical and understand that we all have a role in promoting coexistance and education, yet some people will always slip through the cracks. Karma catches up with everyone though, and we don’t have to do much to let it work. If you don’t have any further problems I’d recommend letting it go. Most times issues like this simply escalate or result in creating negative emotions. If it persists, I’d recommend that keeping the police as a last resort would be best, kids are often ignorant of the consequences of their behavior and involving police may be too harsh a punishment at this point. A hand written letter telling them why they should respect others and involving their parents might make a more effective first step. All the best.

    • if they are stealing packages regularly, I don’t see what good “letting it go” will do.

    • I’d say it’s better to introduce these kids to the police now and instill a bit of fear of the system, rather than wait until they’re older and doing worse things that have worse (for them) consequences.

      • Fear of the system is good for kids? You must not have kids, because no parent would say something like that…

        There was no proof that they stole packages, it’s not fair to assume that.

        As a kid, I used to steal garbage pail kid cards from 7-11, I got caught but my parents paid the store for the losses. I now work in IT for a law enforcement agency and make a six figure salary. None of that would be possible/likely if I had that past criminal record. It would have also probably made me bitter against the system. Don’t de-humanize those kids, they are people too.

        • justinbc

          At that age, for Garbage Pail Kids card, you wouldn’t have had a police record even if it had been reported.

        • You got lucky. You’re an exception not an example.

        • That was my point. If the cops visit these kids now, it’s to scare them into not doing worse things later. Once they’re 14, 16 or older and do something worse than a verbal attack and smashing some flower beds, they can kiss a future with security clearance and a solid job goodbye.

    • According to the original letter, the problem has already escalated. “If it persists”? He’s outlined three separate incidents, at a minimum.
      OP, do you know who their parents are? On my block, I know which parents I can talk to, and which ones I can’t. Try to determine if we’re talking about basically good kids who are perhaps under a negative peer influence, or if the kids learned this behavior from their elders.
      If the former, great. Take brownies. If the latter, call the cops, because given the escalation you’ve already seen, it’s not going to magically stop.

  • It’s the problem with youths all over the city. The parents don’t care, there is no discipline, and none of them go to school. Just look at the shooting at the Zoo a few weeks ago. 9% of African-American kids in the District live in a two parent household – that’s astonishing.

    • ¡Racismo!

      • I hope you’re kidding – have we so devolved into mushy oversensitivity that citing statistics can be considered racist?

        • Of course we have, but in this case I was just kidding.

        • ItsPetworthIt

          Race IS an issue in how we’re approaching this topic. Why was the statistic only for African-American kids? Would we be making such sweeping generalizations in Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, or other historically paler neighborhoods? We don’t have to be outright racists to have internalized racism framing/clouding our perspective.

    • houseintherear

      You are just awful. Ick ick ick.

      • Pretty sure that’s the opposite of “why such problems persist”.

      • houseintherear

        I work with tough kids all day long, every day. If you think your nasty, ignorant attitude isn’t a large part of the problem, you are extremely wrong.

      • Perhaps if Anon @ 1:46 made a legitimate point based upon actual causal factors then his spouting of statistics would be more well received. the notion that because a child does not come from a two parent household he or she is destined to contribute to violence and/or crime is ludicrous. the notion that because a child does not come from a two parent household his or her parents don’t care about them is also ludicrous. education, positive role models, healthy home environments– that is what is important. and unless you go home with every black kid in the city and see what their life is like, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Making sweeping accusations about someone based upon the color of their skin is…wait for it… racist.

        • “the notion that because a child does not come from a two parent household he or she is destined to contribute to violence and/or crime is ludicrous”

          Destined? No. *More likely* to be a delinquent and non-contributor to society? Yes.

          Or maybe the fact that these kids all come from single parent homes is pure coincidence.

        • that’s ridiculous. do you know how many kids in America grow up in single parent households? do you not know anyone whose parents are divorced? or did you grow up in some Stepford town? if you want to argue that other more significant factors (lack of positive role models, socio economic limitations, poor education, etc) contribute to a child becoming a non-contributor to society then fine. but the fact that they only have one parent at home isn’t it.

        • Anonymous at 3:58, no need to get angry at the other anonymous. His or her point is grounded in fact. While it is true that the individual may rise above his circumstances, the reality is that kids born into intact, biological families are far more likely to graduate from high school, have fewer mental health problems, fewer problems with poverty, fewer problems with financial and food insecurity, less likely to be abused, less likely to be in the criminal justic system, etc… Man, this is the way of the world. My grandfather became a successful medical doctor after being raised by a single mother so yes, it can be done (especially with a tough Irish mother and a good Catholic foundation). However, there are a lot of cards stacked against you when you’re born into unstable or broken families. As the other poster said, it is not destiny that you may remain mired in the lower classes, etc…, but statistically, you have a lot working against you.

    • did you go to school? because you sound incredibly ignorant.

      • Look at the DC test scores by race if you want to discuss ignorance.

        • not relevant. we are talking about your ignorance. not anyone else’s. so let’s take a gander at your test scores.

    • Yikes…. Good luck with that comment.

    • Just because a kid comes from a single parent household does not mean that they are set up for a life of crime. A single parent is just as able to raise healthy and accomplished children as a two person household.

      • The statics suggest otherwise.

        (“I grew up with a single parent and I turned out just fine!” does not count as a statistic, in case you wondered.)

        • Actually, it does. I grew up in a single parent household. And I turned out just fine. So what we do, is we look at the population of people you’re interested in. We take a sample. Then we decide what we mean by “turned out just fine” and operationalize “single parent household”. Then we add up all the data and see how many of us who “grew up in single parent households” actually “turned out just fine”. Voila: a statistic. And whether or not just one person saying this counts as “a statistic” depends upon how one defies the population of interest.

          • Nice wordsmithing, but a sample of one is not useful in a statistical sense. You might be able to argue that you’re technically correct but you’d get sacked if you were a statistician and based any analysis on a sample of one. You would have been on stronger footing if you had mocked the typo instead.

          • I didn’t intend to suggest that a sample of one would be “useful” — just that it could, indeed, be a statistic. Although possibly a rather “static” one. 😀

    • None of them go to school huh? Didn’t they have the day off since it was Spring Break when the shooting happened?

  • for everyone saying don’t go to the cops, thats just stupid. these kids are thieves and vandals. those are crimes and they know its wrong. get some video surveillance and report every single incident to the police.

      • +2. Better to get them involved now with the cops at a juvenile record that might be expunged/unlikely to appear later in life rather than let it go until they’re 18 and be scooped up in a permanent record/much more hardcore type of crimes.

  • Raise it with the police, as this is bordering on hate crime (and document each incident with time and details). You didn’t say specifically your gender, but your tone sounds male and you mention “boyfriend” — that’s cool and doesn’t need to be affirmed to justify your response, but if they’re targeting you with hate speach and actions based on sexual orientation it may get a more effective response than a general MPD call where they’ll give them a pass as minors, even if you catch them in the act of theft.

    Do your best not to engage them directly — you stand nothing to gain from such a confrontation. Good luck

    • 100%, I think it actually crosses into the hate crime territory if he is gay (I agree, no need to confirm, but something to consider).

      • ItsPetworthIt

        I agree about bringing it up with MPD’s GLLU (Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit) so it’s at least on the record. Also, hate crimes are still hate crimes even if the perpetrators are wrong in their assessment.

  • gotryit

    Lots of issues there, but spending a lot of time at the gym does not make you fit for a street fight. You might want to reconsider that one. Unless you mean a martial arts gym, but then you probably wouldn’t be too excited to get in a fight.

  • maybe try talking to the kids first? just an idea.

    • Talking involves rational individuals. These are teenagers. You’d have better luck talking to a rock.

      • +1. Taking these matters into your own hands would require stooping to their primitive level of interaction.

  • Call the cops. I live in Ledroit Park and deal with vandalism from the bad apple residents in the neighborhood. There is a usually a patrol car stationed nearby, and police responded within 2 minutes the one time we had an occasion to call. I would not take a picture unless you can do it surreptitiously. You may provoke them.

  • houseintherear

    I live near you and wonder if this is the same group that harassed me once a few months ago (“you’re fat! your dog is stupid!” etc) They followed me down U Street one evening, and I got so tired of it I spun on a heal and let them have it. I basically said I’m an adult and you’re a child and you’ll respect me yadda yadda. I also threw in that I’m a local teacher. I think it’s a lot like what women are suggested to do when harassed by men on the street- state the behavior you desire from them. “I want you to treat me with respect,” or whatever. Most importantly, I walked *towards* them and gave them A Look. They giggled a bit, as kids/teens do, but they stopped and walked away. I don’t know if it actually worked, but it sure as hell made me feel better to stand up for myself. So that’s one option for an in-the-moment response, and then I second the above suggestions of a video or camera. There are lots of blogs and list serves on which to post what you get. Or just call the police, of course, which I would do as well if I were in front of my house when confronted. Good luck!! Stay strong!

    • houseintherear

      Since you have kids, I’d also like to advocate for going to the park (3rd and Elm) and talking with all the kids there. I don’t have kids but I babysit and bring the kids there, and I try to engage the other kids in the playtime. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable because some of the children call me racist names (I’m not black) or assume (rightfully so, if you read some of these post comments…) that I am scared of them or hate them. But, just like adults you’re meeting for the first time, getting past being uncomfortable and trying to be friendly can go a long way. Some of the kids I met at the playground say hi when I see them around the neighborhood, even when they’re with a big group of kids, so I think that says a lot about a small friendly act going a long way. Sounds hippie dippie but maybe it would help a little…?

  • I would mention this to the neighbors. If the kids are from the neighborhood, someone will know them — and will talk to the kids and/or their parents — who likely WILL care. I’d arrange things so that Amazon wasn’t leaving packages on my porch. I’d try to find out if there’s a Restorative Justice type of program available, since these types of interventions have been very effective.
    I don’t think that times have changed so much in terms of the parental intervention — I think that what’s changed is that neighborhoods have become more transient — so that we’ve lost the security of having neighborhoods where all/most of the adults know all/most of the kids — with the sense of having neighborhood values that this implies. Block parties, open houses, sitting on the porch, speaking to your neighbors are all ways to increase this. The more we know each other as individuals, the easier it is to maintain civil behavior with each other.

    • Well said. If that fails, then escalate. But wouldn’t it be great if this turned into a positive experience?

      • sorry but this is a hate crime. no can do, something needs to be done.

        • No, at this point, these are kids acting stupid. To a neighbor that they perceive as being different from themselves. It would be nice if the intervention was one that actually had a chance of making things better. It’s highly likely that each one of these kids would be approachable on an individual basis. And that at least some, if not all, of the parents would want to know what their kids were up to — and would intervene. Treating adolescent stupidity and bravado as a “hate crime” is highly likely to instigate more hate.
          Oh, and I say this as someone who once was an adolescent, and also as someone who has put in a lot of time with kids.

          • Hmmm. Right, DCNative. So are you saying that if a black family moved into a white neighborhood, and a gang of white kids were using threatening, racial slurs, you’d be like, “Hey guys, this is just a case of kids acting stupid.” Even when these racial slurs were accompanied by theft, vandalism, and probably a general physical threat. Yeah….Ok. This behavior isn’t ok, nor should it be chalked up to kids being kids. This has the potential of escalating into something that is far worse than what this man is describing. Beware.

          • Except that the OP and his partner are being targeted because of their sexual orientation with verbal harassment, theft and property destruction. That is beyond “adolescent stupidity.” It is discrimination and criminal behavior and it needs to be stopped. The OP shouldn’t have to live in fear because some brats are targeting his family for being different.

          • First – the comments the kids made were not “threatening” — although they were nasty. The OP does not know that the kids that made the slurs were the same people that took the packages and/or messed up the yard. That’s an assumption. They might be — they might not be. I haven’t said that the behavior is OK. Please read my comments a bit more carefully. What I’ve said is that as a neighbor, and as an adult, my intervention of choice would be to address the problems by approaching the parents, by approaching neighbors who likely have some influence on the kids, and by intervening in a way that I know has a chance of creating and supporting positive behavior.

          • This isn’t necessarily a hate crime, unless the speech coincided with another unlawful act. It’s not a hate crime to say “Hey f#gg#t!” and then heckle the OP. Extremely distasteful and homophobic? Yes. But not illegal.
            If they threaten violence, commit an act of violence, or otherwise deface the OP’s property while acknowledging his sexuality, then it is a hate crime.
            The package thefts were crimes of opportunity, so definitely not a hate crime.
            The defacement of the garden would also be difficult to prove as a hate crime.

  • “Shout it loud, shout it proud!”

  • I wish I had an answer to your immediate dilemma, but I don’t. These kids are typical of a larger set of lost youth in this city that victimize with impunity and make it hard to live here.
    I find myself wishing that someone who these kids may respect in the entertainment, sports, or wherever could make some connections into these kids’ families and communities to make them realize the harm in what they are doing. They feed on each other’s callousness and continually ratchet up the destruction until they end up in jail. They need a serious intervention that completely reorients them to caring about others and themselves.

    • Things like this happen all the time in the suburbs, but somehow I feel like you’d see it as simple mischievous kids out there…

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. My husband and I had something similar where 12-14 yr old kids were throwing rocks at each other and one ended up hitting our window. My husband was very upset and told them he was calling the cops while they ran off laughing. A week later, our table was stollen off our patio (we live on the 2nd floor). Definitely call the cops and report it. I would also post signs saying you have a security camera. It’s a shame these kids don’t have parents to teach the morals or manners. But hopefully, the neighborhood will eventually get better as property prices rise.

    • it’s a shame you didn’t end your repsonse two sentences early. Plain ugly!

      • Tell me, what’s wrong with the second to last sentence? Because THAT is the root of the problem. It’s not their teachers’ problem, not their principal’s problem, not MPD’s problem. It’s the lack of parenting.

        • I am not making any excuses, but I know when I was a kid my mom did her best to raise me right with morals and manners etc and I still made mistakes. I am pretty sure that if it was just one kid that nothing would have be said to the OP. Sometimes kids will just be kids escpecially when they are amongst friends. This has NO color barriers.

      • ItsPetworthIt


  • Sounds like the “Say Hi Campaign” folks are getting a bit too aggressive these days.

  • +100

    It’s an easy lesson to teach and one they would understand and benefit from.

  • nightborn

    Set up a camera. And a sign saying “smile! you’re being filmed!”

    Once you have evidence, take it to the cops.

  • Sorry to hear this is happening to you. I would also recommend contacting the MPD. But first, I would mention this to the neighbors you’re friendly with to see if they know what kids may be doing this. Further, if you find out who the parents are and where the kids live, I would also speak with the parents/guardians if it turns out they’re neighbors. I wouldn’t automatically write them off as others suggest – they might actually be horrified to know their kids are doing this. This way when you do call the MPD (if still warranted after taking the other steps), at least you’ll be able to positively ID the kids and any other relevant info.

  • justinbc

    I don’t think they get approved so much as they do removed after the fact.

  • This happened to me many times while living in Shaw. Speak with their parents. If you don’t know who their parents are, ask a friendly neighbor for an introduction. My experience has been that while the parents are often uninterested in closely monitoring their childern, they still don’t want their kids misbehaving-and will take action if you speak with them in an honest and respectful way. In one case, the mom started hitting the kid right in front of me-I didn’t feel so good about that.

  • “Now, honestly I could care less what these kids are doing with their time and frankly I’ve got more important things to be doing with mine- but I’m not going anywhere and I don’t want to start a long annoying tradition of annoying neighborhood kids messing with my stuff.” ———— Looks like you answered your own question. Just go about your business. Remember you have more important things to do than raise someone else’s kids.

  • 1st step – don’t get worked up about it – especially not in front of them

    2nd step- poop in an amazon package and leave it out for them to steal.

    • Bad idea. These kids will just smear the crap all over the front of your house.
      These kids will always win, so don’t give them any other ideas. You’re never going to get one up on them unless you sit at home all day. These kids have way too much free time on their hands.

  • DC/Ohio, city/suburbs/farmland, black/white, two parents/one parent/no parents, doesn’t really matter, I’d call the cops. You were verbally harassed and your property was vandalized.

    But I think the best suggestion made so far was to reach out to the neighbors – it’s a sign of respect and shows you care about the neighborhood, not just your own property. Good luck with this.

  • Right, doesn’t everybody know that we’re supposed to ignore the components of race and class when they are connected in any way to criminal activity? Come on everybody, if we ignore our differences, they will magically disappear and crime will vanish forever.

  • I am confused by some of the advice that is being given. People keep saying that the homeowner should throw an open house or party to get to know his or her neighbors. But the original post said that “all” of the neighbors have been welcoming. Sounds like he or she knows the neighbors already and the neighbors know him or her. And it also sounds like the neighbors are “looking out” because they keep reporting thefts of packages after they have occurred. They just don’t seem interested in speaking up in real time to stop these thefts. And I would think that if any of these neighbors knew any of the kids in question – and some probably do – they would have already talked to the kids or their parents.
    But the sad truth is that a lot of older residents are as if not more afraid of these kids than the new residents are. They may be sympathetic to your plight but they don’t want to get involved, lest they feel the wrath of these kids.
    I would stop getting packages delivered and set up the surveillance system.

    • +1. And contact the police.

    • They might not be aware of the insults and resulting anger on the part of the OP. Next time the OP sees his neighbors I would share this interaction with the little punks. Let your neighbors know you are bothered and really irritated with the petty vandalism.

    • Yes. The original post said that all of the neighbors were welcoming. It doesn’t say what — if anything — the OP has done to be neighborly back. It also doesn’t say that the OP has made any effort to use these neighborhood ties to attempt to address the problem. The OP asked us what we would do. And we are making suggestions. Note, also, that we KNOW that the kids made nasty comments. It’s not clear that the same kids also stole packages.
      My goal would be to identify the kids, to talk with their parents, who likely would have the kids talk to me in their presence as part of a successful intervention/apology. If they messed up my yard, they would have to fix it — and their parents and I would have to approve the job that they did. And my overall goal would be to do whatever I could to build and participate in a functioning neighborhood — where people know each other and can build some degree of trust and cooperation, despite — and including — our possible differences.

      • i’m glad that has worked for you in the past. it doesn’t work in a lot of situations and it’s great that you haven’t had that experience.

  • I’m so sick of the disrespect a lot of DC kids have these days. The other day on the metro some random middle schooler was by himself, throwing trash around, and yelling about how bored he was, and was cussing out random people. What’s WRONG with these kids? No home training whatsoever.

  • My jaw just hit the floor. What a sickening comment.

  • Video surveillance. Absolutely. No question. Record. Record. Record.

    I LOVE the filling an Amazon box with poop idea but that’ll just backfire because then you’ll come hom eto dog sh!t on your house and more of your stuff destroyed.

    So sorry you’re dealing with this. Good luck dealing with these boneheads.

  • Package theft is a problem everywhere. There was recently a huge problem in the Adams Morgan area and MPD worked pretty diligently for several weeks undercover and were able to catch people. You can’t assume that the people stealing the packages are the same kids mouthing off and most likely destroying the plants.

  • justinbc

    I stopped being surprised by what people on the internet said the moment I joined my first AOL chatroom in 1991.

  • If you contact the police each time it happens, they may increase the patrols they do of the neighborhood. My neighborhood has a good amount of police presence and it keeps the peace.

  • Your “hate” for these kids comes from frustration. I would rather walk around and be called names and be totally clear on where I stood with such individuals than to live next to the person who posted that ignorant ass comment above.

  • Go to the LeDroit Park Civic Association Meeting – it’s held every month at Florida Avenue Baptist. There’s always a police liaison there to talk about neighborhood crime, and folks from the community who will probably know the kids. It’s a good non-confrontational place to start.

  • Behavior like this is the result of neglect from infancy. No bonding most means no empathy, often an irreversible condition when the disconnectedness extends into adolecence.

    • LOL! Please find me someone — anyone — who, as a young teenager, NEVER made an untoward comment when with a group of peers. Or did you mean something else by “behavior like this:? I’m not condoning the behavior. I am attempting to normalize it..

      • Anonymous, I’ll report myself as never having made racist or anti-gay comments when I was growing up. There you go. I agree with person talking about empathy, though. There is an astounding lack of empathy among all kinds of people, but especially our younger people. Technology, breakdown of the family, no religion, etc… probably all play a part.

        • Or, religions that hate gay people.

        • Thanks for the serious response. I said “untoward” though. Meaning that recently , I’ve noticed that “gay” is used by middle schoolers to mean all kinds of negative things that seem to have little to do with sexuality. Similarly, “lame” and “retard” were very common when I was in junior high school — and were used in very general , negative ways. Again, I’m not condoning the kids’ behavior — as much as seeing it as something very differently from a “hate crime”. I also agree with the comments about empathy — I just think that calling the police for 12 year olds name-calling is not a way to create more of it.

  • Worst advice ever.

  • Definitely videotape surveillance for the porch. Seems like it would get you a better chance of ‘catching’ the perps who may already be known to local police. Find out the name of your local police liason because you can email and get a quicker response once you’ve established a relationship than just calling 911.
    In Park View they had a problem with vicious assaults on individuals perceived as gay. I don’t know if busting the kids for being ignorant little jerks will work, but better now than waiting until they are bigger and bashing in people’s heads for homophobic kicks.

  • Oh great. Now we’re going to have to have a whole discussion again about how referring to teenagers as “animals” is highly racist and dehumanizing. I’m going to sit this one out.

    • Well, the problem reported by the OP is that a bunch of 12 year olds called him offensive names. So now, as we discuss appropriate interventions, we have comments that include adults calling a bunch of children — yep — offensive names. I’d say that’s worthy of some discussion.

  • I’m a middle aged Black woman — and I’m sick of people referring to other people as “animals”. So I guess we have a fair amount of sick folks around these days.

  • Get a giant scary dog, like a rottweiler or soemthin. It’ll scare the shit out those kids

  • Whoa… lots of Black folks coming out on Popville… good to see y’all. (Waving)

  • i’m so sorry this happened to you. i would call the police and report it. you may wish to deal the the gay and lesbian liaison unit.
    i wouldn’t delay.

  • Are there criminal charges you could file? Also, what about hitting their families with a civil suit?

    • Take their house in a civil lawsuit and you won’t have to worry about them in the neighborhood anymore

  • Ask around the neighborhood if someone knows the kids then they’ll let you know who the parents are. Parents may not always have a handle on what their kids do but if the neighborhood is as close knit as it sounds, they’ll be horrified that their kids are disrespectful to a new neighbor. If the parents think the little delinquents are angels and it happens again, that’s another story.

  • Sorry to hear about this. We had a similar situation and it adversely affected our quality of life for a time. We had a very threatening note directed toward our infant child left on our front porch, threatening their life. We obviously involved the police right away, but there was little they could do. But they did advise asking neighbors on our block for help, to see if the handwriting could be identified and to help keep a look out. We were fairly confident we knew who the culprit was due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with some kids on our block just prior to that. We did ask our neighbors for identification, without pointing fingers, including to the kids’ grandmother. Thankfully nothing else ever came of the note and we believe the kids got the message because they were polite with us after that. So if you feel more secure having the police have a record of the theft and vandalism, file a report and also engage your neighbors for lookout and the message will likely get to the kids from someone who has sway over them.

  • Next time they give you a hard time, I’d quietly ask them to come discuss their comments, and then calmly whisper the following: I know where you live too. And one night, when mommy shuts off the lights I might be coming. I’ll be bringing sharp knives and I’m going to show you what your insides look like. Please mess with my stuff again, please… it’s been too long since I’ve seen true terror in a little boy’s eyes before they go dark. Then recommend they lock their windows.

    Problem solved.

  • I have given up on MPD in Petworth. Their response is that this is what the community wants. But, teens selling heroin, toting guns, and running a fencing operation, really?!

  • If they are really twelve years old I would just grab one of them by the arm and call the cops. They won’t bother you again if you are a tough guy and they are kids. You can very easily subdue a child without hurting them, especially if you are in good shape. Better you doing it nicely and teaching them a lesson now then the next guy kicking the shit out of one of them.

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