Neighborhood kids ringing doorbell and running away-any advice on what to do?

For about the past year, some of the neighborhood kids have been ringing our doorbell and then running away, sometimes twice a night. It’s always after it gets dark. At first, they would only press the bell once, so it would ring, “Ding-dong.” Now, they press the bell down hard so that it rings, “DI-DI-DI-DINGDINGDONG!!!” The past two times they’ve done it (this past weekend and about 2 weeks ago), my husband has not been home, only me.

I think it is one or two pre-teen or teenaged boys. I say this because once last year I happened to be in the bedroom after dark, near the window (our bedroom is upstairs at the front of the house and faces the parkinglot), and I saw two boys run away from our door into the next yard after the bell was rung. And two weeks ago, I had just come home a little before 9 pm. I went upstairs and opened the bedroom windows. Shortly thereafter, I heard running footsteps and giggling, and then the doorbell went crazy.

Well, at the time I was grumpy because I was feeling tired and nauseous (being pregnant and hormonally challenged probably didn’t help things much either). I ran downstairs and onto my front stopp, and yelled, “Whoever is ringing doorbells needs to stop it and GO HOME!!” There was a little girl on a bike, in the street. She said, “I didn’t do it.” I said, “Well I heard whoever it was come up to my front door, and it needs to stop because it’s not funny anymore!” Then I went back inside.

I was thinking, great, I’m probably going to be branded as a Grumpy Old Lady from now on and they’re going to cause even more mischief. I went upstairs and sat by the open windows for a few minutes to see if I would hear them say anything about my yelling (there were several kids out and about in the area). I heard the little girl call to someone, “David, you been ringin’ doorbells again?”, to which a boy’s voice replid, “Nuh-uh, I didn’t do it!” or something similar. A short time later, I heard the same little girl telling someone, “David’s been ringing doorbells again.”

What I would like to do is, the next time it happens, run out the front door and see if I can catch them, and then march them straight to their home and tell their parents what their child has been doing. My husband thinks this is a bad idea, he wants to be the one doing the confronting; however, the past couple times they’ve done it, he hasn’t been home.

I probably shouldn’t let it bother me, after all, it’s just a couple of stupid kids doing a harmless prank, right? It’s just that it’s annoying, I’ll be sitting quietly reading a book or something, it’s after 9 o’clock PM, and then the doorbell goes crazy. It startles the cats, it startles me, and I think, “Oh goodness what if it’s my husband and he’s injured or something?” Then of course I go to the door and there’s no-one there.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had problems with the neighborhood kids. Some of them were using our front stoop and sidewalk as a skateboard ramp- that stopped when I caught one of them. I opened the door and said, “Please don’t skateboard on my sidewalk anymore.” The kid said okay, and I could tell he was embarassed, and his friend was smirking. Either they have stopped or they have learned to recognise our cars and do it when no-one is home.

Some of the kids also throw trash on our front lawn. And some of them tend to ride their bikes behind the car when you’re trying to pull out of your parking space or will stand in the middle of the road and not move as you are trying to drive by.

Boy, writing all this has made me realize what a bunch of twits there are in this neighborhood! Maybe it is time to move! I have thought about borrowing a friend’s large dog and letting it out into the front yard after the doorbell gets rung. One of my friends suggested setting up a webcam type of deal; then we’d have video evidence to confront them with. I’m stumped as to how to deal with this- anyone have any suggestions?


About 15 minutes ago I was trying to post this and just got through. I went upstairs to sort some laundry. I heard voices outside, wondered if it was them. The doorbell rang, I ran downstairs and out the door. I walked to the end of my sidewalk and noticed a small face peering around the side of a car in the parking lot adjacent to our row of houses. I walked towards the kid and said, “Did you ring my doorbell?” He stood up, it turns out there was a whole group of kids hiding there! Three hispanic boys, one about 4 or 5 years old, the other two looked maybe between 7 and 10 years old. There was also a black girl and a white girl, both looked pre-teen. I asked them if they saw who rang my doorbell. Of course, they all said no. One of the girls said, “We just saw this kid go to the door, we was hidin cause we thought we’d get in trouble.” I looked up the street and saw three kids running away from us and turning into another street, they were short, so probably pre-teen as well. One of the girls called after them to come back, but of course they didn’t. I asked them if it was David who was ringing doorbells and where he lived, they told me they didn’t know where he lived and that he was just some “Puerto Rican wannabe” (their words, not mine). One of the girls started down the walk calling, “David, David, you’re gonna be in trouble.”

I noticed two boys hanging their heads out an upper-story window a couple houses down. I asked them if they had seen who rang my bell. They said no, they had started looking out the window because they noticed the kids hiding behind the car. I told the kids that if it was David who kept ringing my doorbell, I was going to find out where he lived and go talk to his parents. I told them that I had overheard one of them saying that he was ringing doorbells before. They were all saying “Well it wasn’t me, I didn’t do nothin, we don’t know him, it was someone who we never saw before and we were watching him.” They started walking away from me and I went inside.

I’m probably handling this the wrong way, but dammit, I’m tired of this. And why are these children out on the street at 9:30 at night, including one who appeared to be 4 or 5 years old? Don’t they have homework to do or baths to take? School isn’t over yet, for cripes sake! Don’t their parents worry where they are (especially the little one)?

Another thing I thought of doing is going to the bus stop in the morning. My street, and the surrounding neighborhoods, have a TON of kids. I once stood at the bus stop across the street from the school bus stop and tried to count the kids as they got on a huge school bus. I lost count at 60! Being that there are so many children that wait at the bus stop, there are several parents that wait too. I thought of going up to them and asking if they had kids ringing their doorbells at night and if they knew who it was.

Dammit, this makes me feel like I’m turning into a crotchety old grump. I don’t want to be that way- I like kids! I just don’t understand what the big thrill is in all this. I’m betting that all of those kids know who it is; maybe they’ve all done it and one of their games is to dare each other to ring people’s doorbells! It seems suspicious to me that that group of kids would be hiding- why would they hide if they didn’t know the person who rang the bell, as they claimed? I’m really stumped as to what to do now, I probably shouldn’t have gone out there tonight. But, what’s done is done.

Are you or your SO any sort of photography enthusiast? It would be relatively simple to rig the doorbell to a flash camera, or just to a strobe that looks like a camera flash. If the kids THINK you have a picture of them, it will probably stop. However, as long as they see that it gets your goat, and they don’t get caught red-handed, it will continue to be funny (to them). You must actually catch them in the act and let them know that you WILL inform their parents if it doesn’t stop immediately, then be prepared to back up your words with action. If you bluff, they will call you on it, and you’ll have even less chance of stopping the mischief.
Or you can do what my neighbor did. He came to the door with a shotgun and loudly announced that the next kid to ring his doorbell and run would get an ass full of rock salt. We never rang his doorbell again :smiley: .

My quantity of solutions to your dilemma is vast; their variety spans many degrees. However, I find myself winnowing my list down as to eliminte any that will result in the maiming, death, or gross humiliation of the prepuescent Pucks.

Your best options lies with the realization that an electronic doorbell is a simple switch; hence with a minimum of tinkering ability, you can modify it to your own devious specifications. Some examples:

  1. Use the doobell as a swith for an electronic Automatic Lawn Sprinkler System. With the sprinklers properly positioned, the perpetrator, upon ringing the “bell,” will be in for the soaking pf a lifetime, leaving you relatively dry (there’s bound to be some splashoff.)

  2. Record the sound of a larcge, enraged dog. Hook up cassette player to powerful amplifier; place in front window facing out. Crank amplifier to 11. Wire the cassette player so the doorbell will activate the tape when it is rung. Mop up enevitable urine puddle from front porch.

  3. Buy novelty police siren/light thingie; wire as above; etc.

  4. Smear unpalatable, malodorous substance of high viscosity on doorbell. Use your imagination.

  5. Tell the kid you’re from the Jehovah’s Winesses, and it’s nice to have people come to your door for a change.

  6. If all else fails, Release the Hounds!

Good Luck.

Myself, I would disconnect the doorbell- take away their weapon. I would also post a notice that said the property was being video monitored for security purposes.


Well, there go all of MY suggestions. And after I’d found a website that showed how to build a “Bouncing Betty,” too. :frowning: :wink:


You could set up a webcam near your door with a motion-sensitive program running on your computer. (Lego, of all people, sells one of these things.) Kids come to the door; bam, you’ve got silent footage of them. My suggestion is to get a hi-resolution camera so that you’ve got a clear shot of them, since some of these cameras shoot video like that famous Bigfoot movie.

I was thinking something along those lines, except to rig the doorbell to deliver a small shock when the button is pressed. That would discourage them real quick.

Thanks for all the suggestions. My husband is a computer engineer, and I’m sure he could rig something up- and have fun doing it! I have some friends who have large dogs that have evil-sounding barks (even though the dogs themselves are big goofuses) that I thought about recording.

I also thought about just unhooking the doorbell and telling all of our friends to knock on the door instead of using the bell from now on. Or posting a sign out front that says, “Smile, you’re on camera!” so that even if we don’t have an actual camera rigged up, the kids might think that there is one there, and they would stop because they don’t want to get caught on video. I’ll have to tell my husband about some of your suggestions.

Wait, I have it! I can smear superglue on the doorbell, thus ensuring that I catch the kid, and, once he surgically gets his finger removed from the bell, he’ll never want to go near a doorbell again in his life!! Whaddya think? :smiley:

On the MPSIMS main page just under this thread was the following: "Git Yer Own Space Shuttle!!! " Gee, I don’t see how that will help. :wink:

Regarding your problem, I disagree with most of the responses. Getting a video, either using a webcam or traditional video camera, is a great idea. You might rig it to the doorbell, or put a motion sensor on it, or just turn it on to record during the typical time it occurs. Then you can identify the culprits.

As for your response, I would suggest an alternative. You cornered a number of children who were witnesses. They were hiding behind the car, they knew something was going on. Sure they aren’t going to admit it to you. What you do is you take the ones you found, or at least the older ones, and then you call their parents. You then enlist their parents’ help in obtaining the identity of the culprits. If things are as you describe them, it is probably more than one person involved. It is likely a group of 3 or 4 who are doing it together to get laughs, with the others aware of what is happening and while not actively participating (yet), enjoying the show. And if some are as young as you state, they will definitely graduate to doing the same kind of activities in their own time if you don’t send a clear signal now that this is wrong. You do this by getting every single one of the little brats in trouble for their participation in the “prank”.
An analogy is aiding and abetting a felon. You can get charged with a crime - a felony - if you take action to protect a felon or suspected felon. They are in the wrong to cover it up, and are not telling you precisely because they are afraid of getting in trouble. Use that against them, and get their parents’ involved now. Explain their complicity and that you consider the thing more than a harmless prank. Hopefully the parents will agree that the behavior is inappropriate and will help you identify the specific culprits by getting the information from the witnesses.

With any luck, this will resolve the problem, but if for some reason the parents are less than cooperative, you can resort to the recording method, and also escalate to a legal matter. If you must, threaten to call the cops, and if that doesn’t work, do call the cops. Give the parents a chance to deal with it first, but don’t let them ignore it or blow it off.

And don’t worry about getting a reputation from the brats. They need to learn to respect other people and their property, learn proper behavior. If it takes you getting a reputation as being grumpy, that’s the price for making the world a better place.

Of course, an even more in-depth response is trying to find out why they picked you. Perhaps it is just that they were hitting random people and your response was the most fun.

Just be glad they aren’t using the paper bag+dog dodo+fire gag.

Thanks Irishman- you know, I actually had thought about that earlier- the next time it happens- and I’m sure it will- if the same group of kids is out there I am going to either insist that they take me to their home, and then tell their parents that their child has been hiding when someone rings my doorbell, and that I think their child knows who is doing it, and enlist the parent’s help in pressuring the kid to give up any info about said culprit. Or if that doesn’t work, going to the bus-stop the next morning and seeing if any of the kids has a parent that waits with them, and talking to them then. Although that wil only work for a couple more weeks and then school will be out for the summer.

I am also considering calling the non-emergency police number and asking if ringing a doorbell and then running away is considered something like “malicious mischief”, and then I can throw that at the kid if I happen to catch him. (or her)

Not a very good idea being barefoot and pregnant, and running out of the house in the dark in search of the neer-do-wells.

If it was me, I would value my personal safety above any childish inconveniences.

Of course, only you know your neighborhood and the mindless idiots out for kicks.


Just put a little sign next to the door bell that says “They’ll take my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers”

Or keep a bucketful of water ballons handy.

I really really hate to say this, but please, before informing parents, make sure that 1) you have the right kid and 2) his/her parents aren’t whackaloons. We caught a neighborhood boy doing this and frog-marched him to his parents - who we then had to physically stop from beating the child to a pulp. Which then caused them to start on <i>us</i>. Which led to police involvement, harrassment from the parents, more police involvement, and ultimately, the sale of our house. My vote is for disconnect the damn bell. People who really need to get your attention at the front door will ring, wait for a response, then knock or holler when none is forthcoming. Idiotic kids getting their kicks won’t even know it didn’t ring.

Darnit. I forgot the italic thingie on the SDMB doesn’t work lke a NORMAL italic thingie.

My initial thought mirrored many of the comments here - sprinklers, cameras, etc. - but I’m inclined to think that the best way to deal with it is simply to disconnect the bell. If you really need some form of signal other than a knock, it’d be pretty easy to rig a small light to flicker in the house. That way, you know somebody is at the door, but the precious little ones outside don’t get the satisfaction of HEARING the fruits of their labor. When you see the flickering light, you peer out the peephole, and if you don’t see anybody, suppress your urges and KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED. That’s right, deny the neighborhood darlings the Pavlovian response they’ve conditioned in you.

Remember, little kids have a LOT of patience, and excel at yanking adult chains. If you indulge them, you’ll continue to be their evening entertainment. Even if you bring their parents into the picture, you won’t have stopped them, because then you’ve not only given them another reason to continue the onslaught - revenge - but you’ve made it sweeter, too, by increasing the risk factor.

Ignore the dear wee ones. Pretty soon, you’ll hear other doorbells ringing.

Don’t shoot to wound.

If you can afford it, fence your front yard, install a gate that you can lock at night, and post a ‘No Trespassing’ sign.

If not, the video camera thing worked for a woman in Phoenix whose window kept getting rocks thrown at it.

Allow me to offer my insight to the situation. You see, I used to DO this when i was younger, not too long ago.

If I had to guess, I would say the kids hiding behind the car were involved. Them being little kids, of course they want to stick and see what happens when they pull such a prank. The ones running away could have been part of the same group but just had the sense to get out of there. Even if they werent a part of it I would feel pretty certain they knew who it was. After all, its not cool to “rat out” your friends.

Going to their parents could have mixed results. Be prepared for the possibility that the parent doesnt care that their child is doing this. I know one of my friend’s parents didnt care.

My recommendations? Have you thought about installing a motion light? I know from experience that it takes a lot of balls to “ring and run” a house with a fully lit up porch.

Other than that, just stop answering the doorbell. They keep doing it because its funny and entertaining. Make it boring and eventless and they are sure to stop. I know it might be irritating at first, but do you think after, say, 15 nights (that may be a little excessive :P) of not getting a response that they are going to keep ringing it?

If all else fails, scare the sh*t out of them. Doesnt have to be anything elaborate. I know one house we stopped going to because after we rang the doorbell one time we hid in a small patch of woods beside the house. Well, the owner came out and proceeded to creep toward us very slowly. (How he saw us I dont know) But he got right up on us and right before he got close enough to grab us we bolted in two different directions, hoping we wouldnt get caught. Well that was a little too close for comfort, and like I said, after that we never went back.