Toddler grabs leaves, mom get ticket

July 3, 2008 8:38:51 PM PDT
A young girl has been caught in the act of vandalizing New York City property. The 3-year-old grabbed some leaves from a tree branch and then ripped them off. Ana Stinner's actions got her mom a $100 ticket Tuesday night after a parks officer says the toddler destroyed a tree branch in the Chelsea Waterside Park.

"It borders on harrassment," mom Elaine Stinner said.

Ana may be an accused tree vandal, but she can barely reach even the lowest branch on the tree in question.

Ana is almost 4 years old. She's a little less than 3-feet tall, and she only weighs 35 pounds. So her mother questions how she could ever exert enough force to pull down one of these branches.

The parks officer wrote in his summons that Ana "severed a branch." In fact, her mother says she just snapped off a clump of leaves attached to a twig. Elaine says she told the parks officer she didn't see Ana do it, but he apparently wasn't taking any excuses.

"He told me that if my daughter had committed a murder while I wasn't watching, I'd still be responsible," Elaine said. "She's 3, so I really didn't know how to respond to that."

Now, there is some relief for the Brooklyn mom who calls the whole episode absurd.

The Department of Parks told Eyewitness News that "the summons was issued improperly. We are in the process of voiding the summons and speaking with the officer who issued the summons. The mother should have been given a warning."

"It's just frustrating to have to be put through that," Elaine said.

The free-spirited pre-schooler doesn't seem too upset about being labeled a park vandal, but her mother says next time, they'll stick to the sprinklers and steer clear of the trees.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Jen Maxfield

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King