Get off my lawn! Cranky old lady steals kid's football

Story here.

Elderly woman arrested for petty theft after she refuses to give the kid’s ball back, when it lands on her lawn.

My husband and I disagreed about this. He sympathizes with her. I don’t think an occasional ball and kid in your yard is a big deal. It’s not like they’ve broken windows or hit her house with the ball, or that the ball’s landing in flower beds.

What do you think?

I have no sympathy for a bitter old lady. She should be happy that the kids are expending their energies on football, instead of breaking into her house or stealing her car. What could be more wholesome in America than streetball?

What a crotchety old bitch. I would hate to have her as a neighbor.

First off, I think calling the kids cheap for not wanting to spend $15 on a new ball is just stupid. My first reaction was that the kids/parents did right by calling the police when she refused and that the police over reacted. But since she refused to give the ball back even when the police asked, I guess it could be considered stealing. So, we have two legal questions at play here. First off, if I put something in your yard, is it now legally yours (we’ve discussed posession on this board several times in the last few months) in which case I assume she would not legally have to return it. Second (I’ve been meaning to start a thread on this very question), is it considered tresspassing to enter someone elses property to get somthing that both parties agree is yours? I know the football is mine, she knows the football is mine, I can see it right there and I can get it without disturbing anything (except maybe opening a gate)…Can I get arrested for tresspassing if I enter her property to recover it?

I never understood the people who think that a ball in the yard is a big deal.

Now, my neighbor’s kid runs his four-wheeler through my back yard when he thinks I’m not looking…

:smiley: Heck that doesn’t really bother me either. The only worry I have with that is, I’m likely liable if he hurts himself.

If the kids taunt the woman and constantly find reasons to go in her yard just to push her buttons, then I can see why she took the ball.

If they were just playing and she’s keeping the ball because she’s one of those people with too much time on her hands who loves to complain to pass the time, then I have no sympathy for her.

I would hate to the judge in this case.

This story should run without reference to the woman’s age. I’d like to see reaction then.

Old people should know better than all of us. I got no problem with what happened. If there are mitigating circumstances, I’d love to hear them, but chances are these are not neighborhood bullies tormenting an elderly woman, or the police would be somewhat wise to it.

If she is old and guilty, she is guilty. Old ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.

Before reading the story, my sympathy was with the old woman. Maybe the kids are always in her yard, ruining her flowers, teasing her and such. Kids can be mean and obnoxious at times, and I understand wanting to teach them a lesson. But after reading I didn’t get that impression.

Now I think that she just sounds sad and bitter. Please, Lord, please don’t let me get that way when I get old!

When I saw this story, I was reminded of my dad’s stories of Mrs. Voss. She was a “mean old woman” whose house happened to be right next to the lot on which Dad and his friends would play ball (baseball or football, depending on the season). Whenever a ball landed in her yard, Mrs. Voss would jump out of her house, grab the errant spheroid, and re-enter her dwelling posthaste.

It was simply understood that ringing her doorbell and asking for the ball back would be futile – neither side would have thought of calling the cops (in Cleveland during the 1940’s and early '50’s) over such a trivial matter. When my siblings and I were kids, the family would occasionally drive by the house, and Dad would recount tales of Mrs. Voss while wondering if she were still alive – and (if not) how many balls her next of kin had found when the house was prepared for sale.

I wouldn’t care if a ball landed in my yard, let alone seize the toy, but (the law aside) I support Edna Jester’s right to keep the ball if she pleases. It’s similar to what I’ve learned since I started walking a dog – some people don’t care if the canine craps in their yard and the owner strolls merrily along, others ask that the mess be cleaned up, and still others tell you that the sheriff will be called if that damn dog is ever allowed to place so much as one paw on their precious grass again.

This was the result of repeated events. The home owner got tired of the constant use of her property as a backstop for neighborhood sports leagues. It’s both a function of property rights and the security of peace. If keeping the ball represents a prosecutable offence (theft) then the court should also review the offence of trespassing and disturbing the peace.

To the extent the woman’s age is relevant is a function of respect. Her desire to be left alone without a bunch of howling street urchins disturbing her day may sound petty but it’s all she has. The kids are mobile bundles of energy who can relocate further down the street or to a park where there is space to play their games and make noise.

The Mayor Judge should take both sides into his/her chambers and require them to resolve this by themselves or fines would be levied against both as a deterrent to avoid a future waste of court and police time.

IMO the parents of the children should have approached their neighbor with a sincere attempt at resolving both issues and not use police to resolve their single issue. I was taught to respect the elderly. When I asked my Mom why she once told me that I would be old some day and would want to be treated that way. If she found out that my ball game was annoying a neighbor she would have told me to apologize and relocate the game.

By the way, this actually happened to me. I was at a friend’s house as a young adult and we were playing football. The game often wandered into front lawns and the police were called. It turned out that the older woman was frightened by voices and people around her house (it was dusk). When the police told us we all walked over, introduced ourselves and apologized. The person living next to her gave out his phone number in case she ever was ever scared or needed help. A negative situation was turned into a positive one. Civility is not that difficult.

Dobermans. I’ve found having a couple dobermans keeps those pesky kids from my house. Thay make those spandex-clad city bicyclists ride faster when they pass my farm. People selling meat or salvation make a hasty retreat. Dobermans are the answer.


Growing up, we too had one of those neighbors.
We quickly learned that if a baseball or football or kite landed in his yard, it was history.
To some extent, we sort of understood the old guy.
He had a huge garden that he took immaculate care of…vegetables, flowers, you name it.
I guess he wanted to make sure kids were not running through his garden every time something landed over there.
We just didn’t play anywhere near his house.


Wow. Is this really how we want to look at problems? Who cares if they are trespassing, at least they aren’t stealing her car? Should we grade everything on the “it could be worse!” curve?

Without more information, it’s hard to say who is at fault. She certainly could be a cranky old lady who bitches about next to nothing. She also could have children tromping through her yard constantly and she’s finally had enough.

Children have a way of believing that they can play wherever they want. My grandfather lives next to a woods and neighborhood children track through his yard constantly in the summer to go into the woods to play. Sometimes they stop to climb on his fence or climb a tree (many branches have been broken) or ride (or push) their bikes through the yard. They drop their trash and make ruts in the yards with their bikes. Ruts that could cause him to fall when he’s out walking his dog. The kids have been repeatedly told to stay out of the yard and they keep coming back. Their parents have been told and they blow it off. Sometimes people get to a point where they’re fed up.

Either way, it shouldn’t have come to a point where the police were called over a ball.

The article linked to in the original op. quote:

Police say there had been an ongoing dispute over the errant football and a child’s parent called to report that Jester kept the ball after it landed in her yard again.

UPDATE: Charges were dropped. Sanity prevails.


Also, if she’s having a problem with kids constantly tromping through her yard, the solution is to talk to the kids and their parents, not possibly commit theft.

Moreover, from that article:

This clearly was not a decision that would have been made in some or maybe even many jurisdictions from the sound of this.


She did talk to them. They asked her to return the ball and she said no. . . repeatedly. That’s when they went to the police.

And what if that doesn’t work? Some parents are every bit as unreasonable as their children. I have spoken to the parents of neighbor children. Out of three families, only one was even halfway decent. The other two were automatically “Not my kid!” and refused to help. After that one of the kids even said “My Mom said I don’t have to listen to you.”

Contrary to what everyone believes, not everyone is rational and reasonable when it comes to their offspring.

See my folks would’ve said “Stop bugging that old lady and if you want to play football go to the park.”

Now if the kids can walk to a park, there’s no reason for them to be playing ball. Perhaps if they live in an area where it’s too far to walk to a park, I’ll give them that.

The lady is guilty of theft, but the kids need to learn other people count. What that means is her time on earth isn’t long, while there time is. There will be lots of chances for them to play football, but not many chances for that old lady to enjoy her days.

Kids need to be taught other people count. An old woman’s peace of mind most likely outweighs their legal right to play football