The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:16 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
Would you sneak into a teenage girl's bedroom at 2AM if it was for The Greater Good?

Background:

One of our neighbours is a single mother with two kids living with her. The two kids are a girl aged six and a boy aged four. I have never spoken to the mother and barely seen her. (For clarity, we will call the mother Susie, the six-year old Jill, and the four-year-old Johnny - names changed to protect the innocent.) Jill and Johnny run around the neighbourhood in the evenings until it's late, with Susie nowhere to be seen. One of our other neighbours further down the street (also a mother with two children - let's call her Cindy) once called the police when Jill and John were still playing outside after dark and Susie was presumably somewhere inside the house. I thought Cindy should have just banged on Susie's door but she wanted to make more of an impression and so called the police - Cindy said she was tired of feeling like she needed to keep an eye on Jill and John. This happened several months ago. BTW I also have two children aged five (almost six) and two and a half.

Last week-end a big U-Haul moving truck was outside Susie's door all Sunday so I assumed that they were moving. Sunday night / Monday morning at 2:00 AM I hear a child crying in the street. (This is a Southern California housing tract where houses are within spitting distance of each other.) I look out our second-story bedroom window and see a car nearby with the inside light on so I figure someone came home late and the child woke up. But 10 minutes later I hear again some child screaming "Mommy! Mommy!" I can't see anything through the window so I go out on the sidewalk to verify. I see Johnny on the sidewalk crying out for his Mommy. Then Jill comes out of the house and says that her mother left at midnight with the moving truck and isn't back yet. At the same time a young couple from the house on the other side come out and we confer. The young couple (new to the neighbourhood - I had never met them yet) said that they thought they had seen an older girl around today. I start questioning Jill who answers a lot of questions with "I don't know" but the short answer is that she doesn't know where to reach her Mommy but her sister is in the house. Her sister is older but Jill doesn't know the sister's age. Is your sister a lot older then you? I don't know. Is she in high school? 6th grade? I don't know. I ask her if she can go get her sister and Jill wanders in and comes out after 30 seconds by herself. We are standing in front of Jill's house, the front door is open, the lights are on so I can see in the hallway. I've never been in Jill's house before. My first reaction is that Susie probably has a teenager staying with the kids and I should just barge in there and wake that lazy young girl up. The neighbours are saying we should call the police. I'm thinking that this is probably going to be a waste of a policeman's time.

Q: What would you have done? Gone inside the house to check or call the police? Pros to calling the police: There is less of a chance that I will be eaten alive by a zombie hiding inside the neigbour's house. Cons: Why should I need to call the police for every little thing that happens in the neighbourhood? I'm sure they have bigger fish to fry.

You can skip the rest since it's not relevant to the question, but here's how it ended.

I go to get my cellphone, confirm again with Jill that she doesn't have a phone number for her mother, and call 911. Eventually a police car shows up while the neighbours, Jill, Johnny and I are standing in front of the house. (I tried to talk to Johnny but he doesn't say a word - he stopped shouting for Mommy when the adults showed up.) The police officer tells Jill to go get her sister and tries to talk to Johnny but Johnny still doesn't say a word. Jill again comes out by herself. The police officer goes in the house (I hear him shouting "Police! Anyone home?") and after a couple of minutes comes out and waits. After another few minutes a 17-year-old girl wanders out.
Policeman: Who are you? How old are you?
17-year-old: Their sister. 17 years old.
Policeman: Why are Jill and Johnny wandering outside by themselves?
17-year-old: I don't know.
Policeman: Where's your Mom?
17-year-old: They're with the moving truck at the new house in (next town.)
Policeman: Can you call her? (17-year-old has a cell phone in her hand.)
17-year-old: (looks at her phone) No, their phone is turned off. (How can she tell this just by looking at her phone? Those young 'uns sure do understand technology better than I.)
Policeman: What about your dad? Does he have a cell phone?
17-year-old: My dad or (indicating Jill and Johnny) their dad?
Policeman: Which one is with your mother right now?
17-year-old: Neither.
Policeman: Is there someone with your mother right now?
17-year-old: Yes.
Policeman: Who?
17-year-old: Her boyfriend.
Policeman: What's his name?
17-year-old: Biff.
Policeman: His last name?
17-year-old: I don't know.
( I am thinking of telling the policeman that this is starting to sound like a comedy routine but from his scowl I figure maybe now is not the time to point out the humour in the situation.)
I'll skip the part where the 17-year-old knows her Mom's name but doesn't remember her Mom's birthdate or exactly how old her Mom is.
Policeman: (not in a good mood) So tell me, can you think of a reason why I shouldn't call Social Services right now seeing as how your brother and sister are wandering the street in the middle of the night?
17-year-old: (shrugs) I don't know.
Policeman: (he's red in the face by now) OK here's what you're going to do. You're going to take your brother and sister into the house and you're going to sleep in the same room with them and you're going to lock the door so that they don't wander out and you're going to try to show that you care a little bit about your brother and sister and you're going to have your mother call me tomorrow... (added indignation omitted for the sake of brevity)
Kids go back in and policeman is muttering "Unbelievable. Unbelievable." He emphasizes with us (the neighbours and I) to be sure and call him if we hear anything else in the night but he didn't want to have to send the kids to social services if he didn't absolutely have to. I go home. Of course my wife has slept through the whole thing - and then she accuses me of being impossible to wake up!

The next day I saw the mother, boyfriend, Jill and Johnny leaving in her car. I was going to stop her to tell her (in case she didn't know) that the police came by but there were gone before I had the chance to.

Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 08-19-2008 at 05:16 PM..
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:20 PM
Silver Tyger Silver Tyger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
I think calling the police was probably the best thing. You don't want to get into that kind of trouble and you don't have the authority a police officer does.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:21 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
Pseudolegal
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 7,938
No, I think I would have waited outside since you knew the children were safe and right in front of you, and I would have allowed the police to handle the rest (as you did).

I can understand your temptation, but I can envision an unpleasant lawsuit stemming from your entering the home.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:26 PM
DianaG DianaG is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Call the cops. You don't get to go barging into another person's house, or decide the greater good.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:30 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Home of the haggis
Posts: 19,960
Asimovian has it. Besides, what if the girl thought you were an intruder intent on raping her and slotted you?

And you should email the police thanking the officer.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:37 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 30,300
Yep, you did good, and exactly what I would have done. What a bunch of fuckwits.

(Not re the scenario, but just the question in the OP, I'd sneak into a teenage girl's bedroom at 2AM if the next building over was on fire and I couldn't wake her by shouting, but that's about as clear cut a Greater Good as I can come up with to justify trespassing and scaring the bejeezus out of the girl - especially if I was a man. Even if she is a fuckwit.)
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:39 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
What could I possibly be sued for? I can't think of anything. Granted, I'm not a lawyer. I understand that their are reasons for me not to go in there, but on the other hand the police officier didn't do anything I couldn't have done - get the sister/babysitter up and tell her the kids got out of the house. I wouldn't really have burst into the room, but I could have entered the hallway and start shouting "Anybody home? It's 2 AM - do you know where your kids are?"
What does "slotted you" mean?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-19-2008, 05:45 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Posts: 31,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
What could I possibly be sued for?
Trespassing, obviously.

Your ethical duty was to ensure the immediate safety of the children, which you did by waiting and calling the police. You did the right thing. Entering the house was not necessary to accomplish that, and may have subjected you to danger - what if the girl had had a knife or a gun and thought you were an intruder?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:02 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
I understand about the possibility of a trespassing charge, but I can't believe that any court would find me liable considering the circumstances.
How many 17-year-olds actually have a knife or a gun in their bedroom? We live in the suburbs here. It's another possibility but it seems awfully remote to me.

I suppose from a legal point of view it's wise to call the police, but I think it's a sad commentary on the state of modern society that it's considered dangerous to walk into a neighbour's house in these kinds of circumstances. I know that back home in Switzerland I would not have hesitated to go in and try to wake someone up from the entrance hall.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:03 PM
Caffeine.addict Caffeine.addict is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Not to mention that sneaking into her bedroom could get your charged with breaking and entering. You did exactly the right thing.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:04 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
Caffeine.addict: the front door of the house was wide open. That wouldn't be breaking and entering, would it? I'm not trying to be difficult here, just wondering about what the law would say.

Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 08-19-2008 at 06:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:18 PM
Sunrazor Sunrazor is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Well, at my age I'm not sneaking, barging or waltzing into any teen-age girl's bedroom without fire trucks, police cars and black helicopters already on the way. You done good, Arnold, and I commend your reluctance to call the police unless absolutely necessary. In this case, it was necessary ... that's what they're trained for, and they'll the be the first to tell you that. I like your inclination to handle it quietly as a neighbor who cares; fortunately, your better judgement prevailed. Good job.
__________________
Private Cole: Why does it have to be us? Why us?
Colour Sgt. Bourne: Because we're here, lad. No one else. Just us.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:23 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 30,300
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
I know that back home in Switzerland I would not have hesitated to go in and try to wake someone up from the entrance hall.
Well, that's a different scenario now. If the family in question was a good one, if their kids had not been neglected before, if, frankly, I liked them, I'd have no problem sticking my head in the open door and yelling my throat hoarse. If I'd ever been invited over for tea and been inside, I might even feel confident enough to walk inside as far as the bottom of the stairs or end of the hallway containing the bedrooms. I still wouldn't go into a bedroom without invite, short of a physical danger that was unavoidable any other way.

But you had the immediate danger alleviated and, honestly, this wasn't the first time. The police needed to be called, if for no other reason than to maintain a case file so IF something terrible happens next time, they've got a history of neglect to use as leverage to keep those kids safe.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:27 PM
DianaG DianaG is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
I understand that their are reasons for me not to go in there, but on the other hand the police officier didn't do anything I couldn't have done - get the sister/babysitter up and tell her the kids got out of the house.
The reason to call the police is that while he may not have done anything differently than you would, he is an authority entrusted with the public safety and you are the random guy next door.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:29 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 58,797
I'd go in the house. I don't give a shit.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 08-19-2008 at 06:30 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:35 PM
Caffeine.addict Caffeine.addict is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
I've never been in California and I know little of California law.

Quote:
Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary. As used in this chapter, "inhabited" means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not. A house, trailer, vessel designed for habitation, or portion of a building is currently being used for dwelling purposes if, at the time of the burglary, it was not occupied solely because a natural or other disaster caused the occupants to leave the premises.
To me it looks like the entry is all that is required. While you know that you were going in to tell her that her siblings were outside, the cop might not know. Why take chances.

From here.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-19-2008, 06:41 PM
Sleeps With Butterflies Sleeps With Butterflies is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Why are you phrasing it as "sneaking" anyway?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:04 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleeps With Butterflies
Why are you phrasing it as "sneaking" anyway?
Yeah, it would have been less sneaking, more pounding down the door, right?
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:05 PM
Snarky_Kong Snarky_Kong is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
This thread is way more boring than I had hoped.

No, I wouldn't have gone in.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:10 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
You did exactly right. You simply cannot go into a house to look for an unknown sleeping teenage girl, unless it's on fire. And the family now has a history with the police, which may be a good thing later on.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:32 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Judging from your spelling (neighbour, humour), you're not a native of the U.S.

I applaud your concern for the children. I would have called the police, but not 911 (which is strictly for emergencies). Look up and use the "regular" number, since nobody's bleeding or anything.

If you're feeling altruistic, I'd gently let the mother know that the teen was asleep (literally) at the switch and that, not knowing the score, you called the police to make sure the kids would be okay. But really, if you don't go out of your way to tell her, I'm okay with that too.

IMO there's no good reason for a young child to be on the street late at night. There's the child's safety, the fact that neighbors have to work the next day, yadda. If their mother doesn't like it that you called the police, tough buns. It's incumbent on her, not you, to entrust them to someone whom she trusts to be responsible and mature.

Last edited by lobotomyboy63; 08-19-2008 at 07:33 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:43 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobotomyboy63
I applaud your concern for the children. I would have called the police, but not 911 (which is strictly for emergencies). Look up and use the "regular" number, since nobody's bleeding or anything.
That isn't universal. Years ago I arrived home to discover my door broken and my TV gone. Not an emergency, so I call my local precinct. Who tells me to call 911, they take all calls through 911.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:45 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,473
You did right. Now, if there was screaming like a murder was being commited, then you can run in. Otherwise, call the cops.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 08-19-2008, 07:47 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
That isn't universal. Years ago I arrived home to discover my door broken and my TV gone. Not an emergency, so I call my local precinct. Who tells me to call 911, they take all calls through 911.
Judgment call, I suppose. In more populous areas, I'd call a local number but in smaller towns, 911 might be the default in the wee hours. Touché.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 08-19-2008, 08:08 PM
StGermain StGermain is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Toon Town
Posts: 9,340
I'd probably stand at the door and yell, but if I'd gotten such unsatisfactory answers I'd've still called the police. Does anyone know if the poor kids were fed?

StG
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 08-19-2008, 08:20 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Paris
Posts: 14,012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
Background:




Quote:
Q: What would you have done? Gone inside the house to check or call the police?

FWIW, I would have done both.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 08-19-2008, 08:29 PM
eleanorigby eleanorigby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Poor Jill. Poor Johnny.

I would have done what you did do, but I think I would have waylaid the "mom" the next day and told her. I hope their new neighbors in their new neighborhood are as kind as the ones they left behind.


I still say there should be a license to breed.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 08-19-2008, 08:35 PM
Rick Rick is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 15,560
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caffeine.addict
I've never been in California and I know little of California law.
Quote:
Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary. As used in this chapter, "inhabited" means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not. A house, trailer, vessel designed for habitation, or portion of a building is currently being used for dwelling purposes if, at the time of the burglary, it was not occupied solely because a natural or other disaster caused the occupants to leave the premises.


To me it looks like the entry is all that is required. While you know that you were going in to tell her that her siblings were outside, the cop might not know. Why take chances.

From here.
Read for detail. It is only burglary if you enter with intent to steal.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 08-19-2008, 09:09 PM
ready29003 ready29003 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
I would walk into the house and wake up that 17 year old girl...

...but only if I was in a situation where there was no such thing as a police force, like a warzone, or in the middle of a zombie attack, ..or alien attack...or something like that..

Otherwise, I do exactly what you did and call the police.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 08-19-2008, 09:34 PM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
I would have called, and asked permission of the police to yell in the doorway for the girl, thus covering my ass, and hopefully resolving the situation without needing to hang around for the cops. Chances are they would probably tell me no, but it doesn't hurt to ry and save some time all around.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 08-19-2008, 10:43 PM
threemae threemae is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Read for detail. It is only burglary if you enter with intent to steal.
And, as stated in the original quote, the doors are locked, or it's an airplane or mine (which presumably don't have locks). I'm not a lawyer either, but the relevant code to me seems to point to the opposite interpretation from Caffeine.addict in that it only counts if the thing is locked and you're doing it for a naughty reason.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 08-19-2008, 10:51 PM
John Carter of Mars John Carter of Mars is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Alabama, USA
Posts: 4,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I'd go in the house. I don't give a shit.
After all these years, I finally agree with Doggy Knees about something. Unreal!

Out here where I live, people still handle things like this themselves. You only call The Law if somebody's already dead.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 08-20-2008, 01:05 AM
Wile E Wile E is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Although I think what you did was fine, I wonder why no one rang the doorbell to try to get the teenager out. No doorbell? How about knocking? How about going around to her bedroom window and pounding on it?
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 08-20-2008, 01:39 AM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
That isn't universal. Years ago I arrived home to discover my door broken and my TV gone. Not an emergency, so I call my local precinct. Who tells me to call 911, they take all calls through 911.
Hell, I've lived in a town small enough that you called 911 to get your water turned off it was leaking, or back on if you didn't get it fixed until after the city offices shut down.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 08-20-2008, 02:28 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay
Trespassing, obviously.

Your ethical duty was to ensure the immediate safety of the children, which you did by waiting and calling the police. You did the right thing. Entering the house was not necessary to accomplish that, and may have subjected you to danger - what if the girl had had a knife or a gun and thought you were an intruder?
I agree. I can't believe society has degenerated to the point that the kids weren't immediately taken into custody as well as the 17 year old for failure to take care of them. Clearly she was left in charge. AFAIC the teenager was negligent (fill in your best guess as to why). The police had no business leaving her in charge.

Unf***ing believeable.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 08-20-2008, 02:33 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Carter of Mars
After all these years, I finally agree with Doggy Knees about something. Unreal!

Out here where I live, people still handle things like this themselves. You only call The Law if somebody's already dead.
The mother is 0 for 2 with this problem and you have no idea who or what is in the house. Getting into a pissing match with a hill-jack is a waste of time. Been there, done that. If it was someone I knew and their teenager was screwing up I would trespass but chances are you will be dealing with someone who accuses you of trespass. I'll only do that if I hear someone screaming for help or there is some indication a person is in distress.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 08-20-2008, 06:41 AM
elbows elbows is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 8,845
I'm with Wile E and StGermain, you go ahead, call 911, but no way am I standing quietly by, that's just not going to happen.

I'd be up at that door opening it and closing it, loudly, and calling out, loud enough to wake the dead.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 08-20-2008, 06:57 AM
Lobelia Overhill Lobelia Overhill is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
What does "slotted you" mean?
WAG shot, or possibly, stabbed.

I'd had thumped on the door and yelled till someone came out of the house, then told them I was calling the police/social services if they didn't take care of the two smaller kids.

Then I'd have run away and hid
__________________
"Did I not just use the word 'puzzling'?"
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 08-20-2008, 07:12 AM
lieu lieu is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 24,945
I think I would have asked the new neighbor wife if she was comfortable going into the house and calling out to the sister while you and the new neighbor husband stood there with the kids. If that didn't rouse her, then call the police.

Regardless, this situation is going to play out over and over again wherever they move to in one incarnation or another. Sad.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 08-20-2008, 07:31 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 13,285
Aw fuck. Good luck, kids.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 08-20-2008, 07:43 AM
gigi gigi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 18,015
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
Policeman: Can you call her? (17-year-old has a cell phone in her hand.)
17-year-old: (looks at her phone) No, their phone is turned off. (How can she tell this just by looking at her phone? Those young 'uns sure do understand technology better than I.)
Maybe she meant their service was terminated.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 08-20-2008, 09:52 AM
Atrael Atrael is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
A few years ago one of our cats got out. My wife was very upset, so I spent an hour or so making a flyer out with a reward notice and our telephone number. I placed a few on some telephone poles around the neighborhood. While I was doing that I noticed that a bunch of middle school kids were waiting for the bus. I handed out a few of the flyers and asked the kids to call if they found out cat.

Later than night I recieved a call from the local police asking why I had been approaching young girls on the street. I explained the situation to the officer who then told me that I should stick to the telephone poles and not ever hand out stuff like that again. Now this was a sub-division...so while it was a "leave it to beaver' type neighborhood, it was still a fairly close community.


So, take of that what you will when considering going into someone else's house and talking to a teenager with nobody else present. It doesn't matter what your intent is, or even what you do, what matters is "Can someone take your actions the wrong way"?
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:29 AM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrael
A few years ago one of our cats got out. My wife was very upset, so I spent an hour or so making a flyer out with a reward notice and our telephone number. I placed a few on some telephone poles around the neighborhood. While I was doing that I noticed that a bunch of middle school kids were waiting for the bus. I handed out a few of the flyers and asked the kids to call if they found out cat.
In all fairness, the 'Help me find my lost pet' is a pretty common cover for kiddie diddlers.

The OP did the right thing, but my god, those poor fucking kids. And the cop – he must see that, and worse, all the time, knowing that it's 'best' to keep kids with their parents whenever possible.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:32 AM
Wile E Wile E is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrael
A few years ago one of our cats got out. My wife was very upset, so I spent an hour or so making a flyer out with a reward notice and our telephone number. I placed a few on some telephone poles around the neighborhood. While I was doing that I noticed that a bunch of middle school kids were waiting for the bus. I handed out a few of the flyers and asked the kids to call if they found out cat.

Later than night I recieved a call from the local police asking why I had been approaching young girls on the street. I explained the situation to the officer who then told me that I should stick to the telephone poles and not ever hand out stuff like that again. Now this was a sub-division...so while it was a "leave it to beaver' type neighborhood, it was still a fairly close community.


So, take of that what you will when considering going into someone else's house and talking to a teenager with nobody else present. It doesn't matter what your intent is, or even what you do, what matters is "Can someone take your actions the wrong way"?
Unfortunately, the "help me find my lost pet" ploy is a popular child molester trick. I don't think the situations are the same though, but I still think that it might have been possible to rouse the teenager without entering her room.

Although since she didn't seem intimidated by the police I doubt she would have given much thought to a couple soon-to-be-ex neighbors telling her she was doing a crappy job babysitting. So calling the police was probably the best solution in this situation. If there hadn't been a history of bad parenting with these neighbors though I might have tried a little harder to get the teenagers attention without actually entering the house.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:36 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobotomyboy63
Judgment call, I suppose. In more populous areas, I'd call a local number but in smaller towns, 911 might be the default in the wee hours. Touché.
Minneapolis isn't generally regarded as a smaller town. They just do all their calls requiring dispatch through 911 or did at that time, regardless of hour of the day. You can call the precinct if all you need is a case number for insurance on a lost cell phone.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:51 AM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 24,023
Well, on the one hand, I'm evil, so I try to avoid doing things for the greater good simply on principle.

On the other hand, while there are evil reasons to sneak in a teenage girl's bedroom at 2 am, I don't do THAT kind of evil. (Yes, we in the Evil Community do classify our evil. I'm only into conquest, social oppression, and rape of the EARTH, thank you very much.

On the other other hand, calling the police would lead to an amusing situation that would compensate me for being annoyed by the urchins.

So all three hands agree. No, I wouldn't.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:59 AM
Vihaga Vihaga is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
Minneapolis isn't generally regarded as a smaller town. They just do all their calls requiring dispatch through 911 or did at that time, regardless of hour of the day. You can call the precinct if all you need is a case number for insurance on a lost cell phone.

Same with Philly; I got my purse snatched a couple years ago, called the precinct, and got (gently) chewed out for not calling 911 instead. The cops who showed up said there were enough cruisers in the area that they might have caught the thieves as they ran off and that 911 is appropriate for anything like that, even if I don't think it's an emergency.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 08-20-2008, 11:21 AM
Jelymag Jelymag is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
I am usually very hesitant to call 911 since I don't want to keep them away from a worse emergency. But if it involved unsupervised young children on the street at night I would definitely have called also. I wouldn't ever go into a neighbor's house myself, being the wuss that I am, unless I was sure that there was someone actually in the house needing help. FWIW, it looks like if you had gone into the house without calling, the girl would not have been much help anyway. She was pretty surly to the policemen, so I doubt she would have been very helpful to you.

(hijack)My sister has TWICE found the same little boy wandering the street in her neighborhood, once maybe a year ago and then again maybe six or seven months ago. The first time she just happened to look out the window and saw him toddling down the road. She went out and watched him to see if an adult would come looking for him. No one came so she approached the child and asked him his name and where he lived. He was either scared or didn't know so she ended up calling the police. She thinks he was probably about two years old!! (Didn't speak well, still wearing a diaper, small and still baby fat) The police came but after a while no one showed up so they ended up taking him with Social Services people. I have no idea how they ended up returning him, but imagine my sister's shock when she found the same little boy. The police came again, but were able to return him to his home, which was apparently on the next street over. I can't believe there are people out there that are this irresponsible with their children! (end hijack)
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 08-20-2008, 12:13 PM
Thalion Thalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: At the beach
Posts: 517
Arnold, you definitely did the right thing. The cops (I'm one) really don't have better things to do than make sure that children are safe.

I agree that you probably wouldn't have to worry about being charged with anything if you went in the house, but why risk that or a violent response? That's why you pay taxes to employ cops - to do stuff like this.

In addition, this has now been documented in case something else happens with these kids in their new how.

Good job!
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 08-20-2008, 12:18 PM
Thalion Thalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: At the beach
Posts: 517
Oh, about 911. Yeah, it can be better to use the non-emergency number, but it really isn't that big a deal to use 911 if you're in a hurry. Most dispatch centers can switch a call over to a non-emergency line if it's appropriate.

The police response isn't based on what number you call - after the dispatcher gets the details they assign a priority to the call and the officers know which ones to handle first. They aren't going to skip an armed robbery for this call, but they will divert from something less important.

It really bothers me when people don't call when they should, because they don't want to bother us or think we have better things to do. Call!! If we do have something else that's more important, we will take longer to get to your call. But we'll never get there if you don't report the problem.

(OK, I'm a small town cop who really believes in public service. Cops from large, super-busy jurisdictions may not agree, but this is how it should work).
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:12 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.