Parents narc on their thieving kids: Would you?

Two North Carolina parents turn in their sons after recognizing them in committing a crime in surveillance footage broadcast on television.

Scott Threlkeld;New Orleans;The Advocate
St. Tammany Parish Jail in Covington, Louisiana.

After returning from church, two North Carolina parents were faced with a difficult decision after seeing their two sons apparently commit a crime on the evening news: Should they turn them in or not?

On Dec. 29 at 3:30 a.m., five teenage boys reportedly broke into a locally owned electronics store and helped themselves to a variety of laptops, cell phones, and other merchandise at Fayetteville’s Tech Boyz shop, according to the Fayetteville, N.C., police report. The act was caught on nine different cameras, and the footage was broadcast on New Year’s Eve - as police tried to identify the suspects. The parents say they recognized their 14-year-old and 16-year old sons in the footage, leading them to march their children to the Fayetteville police department to turn themselves in for the crime.

Police also arrested a 17-year-old and are investigating the identities of the two other boys. The boys have been charged with breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, and conspiracy to commit breaking and entering. Jesse Hill, co-owner of Tech Boyz, informed that he lost thousands of dollars worth in missing property, damage to property, and customer reimbursements for stolen items.

The names of the suspects have not been released by police. 

The parents told police that their boys were supposed to be staying with an older sibling while they attended the Watch Night Service at their local church. After seeing the surveillance footage and confronting the boys about their actions, the boys confessed and admitted peer pressure played a major role in the night’s events.

Miriam DeLone, a professor and the department chair of Fayetteville State University’s criminal justice department, says in a phone interview that juvenile crime is certainly a concern within the city.

“Perception is that we suffer from high juvenile crime problems,” Prof. DeLone says. “Generally speaking, crime is an income generating activity. Breaking and entering generates either a product a juvenile wants to use, or something they can turn into money. That would be the goal. Is there an amount of boredom and need for satisfying risk-taking behavior? There’s certainly an element of that."

DeLone also says while many parents opt to be good citizens – even when that means turning in their own children – it is a difficult decision to make. Depending on their ages and state law, children can find themselves being charged as adults and suffering major legal consequences.

“The 'tough love' consequences are greater to the juvenile than just the initial embarrassment and discipline of probation,” DeLone says. “The record can be more substantial than parents might realize."

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, children age 15 and under are subject to the juvenile system. But some media reports indicate both boys will be tried as juveniles. 

However, DeLone advises parents to hold their children accountable, and says it is encouraging to see that many parents support this stance wholeheartedly.

Most readers commenting on the website of in Raleigh, N.C., applauded the parents for making a hard choice, including this reader identified as "takemeouttotheballgame."

Good parents can raise little stinkers, that is true. However; it is refreshing to see parents do the right thing and turn the kids in. Lately, it seems as if, even with clear evidence, there are far too many parents suffering from, "not my dear, darling child syndrome." High five to parents doing the right thing, even when it's the tough thing to do!!!

DeLone adds that parents might have helped the boys get a break: “I suspect that if it’s interpreted as the juvenile turning themselves in, there could be leniency. There is no official mitigating action. At the prosecutor’s discretion, I [wouldn’t be surprised] if the act of turning oneself in would be to the benefit of the youth.”

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