It’s the time of year time for high school homecoming games and teens pulling pranks, but Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said pranksters could be mistaken for criminals.
With citizens on alert due to a rash of recent automobile break-ins and auto thefts, it could be dangerous for teens to sneak around and pull pranks such as “rolling” yards, he said.
“As homecoming season approaches, I would like to ask parents for their assistance in curbing incidents of vandalism which routinely occur in neighborhoods as part of homecoming,” he said. “With the recent rise in vehicle thefts and entering autos in residential areas, there is a heightened sense of awareness on the part of residents in these areas.”
Also, deputies patrolling these neighborhoods need to be able to distinguish the real criminals from kids engaged in what they consider “harmless fun,” he said. “There is a real danger during this time for misunderstandings to occur, and I ask anyone not residing or having legitimate business in these neighborhoods to not linger in them, especially at late hours.” Parents making sure their teens refrain from toilet papering yards and other traditional pranks “will ensure that deputies on patrol do not waste valuable time stopping pranksters and responding to complaints of trespassing,” he said.
Deputies are focused on putting a stop to thefts and if they are called to respond to prank calls, or calls in which homeowners see or hear pranksters and believe they are thieves, it could prevent a deputy from responding in a timely manner to more serious call.
When the phone lines are kept busy with calls about pranks, “It makes it harder for law enforcement to tell whether the trespassers are teens playing jokes or whether they are true suspicious persons,” Anderson said. “They should lay off that and let us be focused on patrolling and solving these more serious crimes.”
Another concern is safety. Teens intent on tossing toilet paper rolls over tree limbs could be mistaken for suspects who have targeted local neighborhoods in breaking into cars, and some homeowners might take matters into their own hands before calling law enforcement, he said.
Again, parents are urged to make sure their teens find alternate ways to celebrate homecoming and stay away from people’s private property, he said.
In past years, the sheriff’s department has fielded numerous complaints during homecoming season about minor vandalism, including yards covered in toilet paper, plastic forks, cars and door knobs coated in food and other substances.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.