Teens charged in NJ vandalism spree

August 4, 2009 3:53:00 PM PDT
A vandalism spree in Mount Olive caused more than $100,000 in damage. Now, two 14-year-old boys are charged. The worst of the damage was in a brand new house. Final touches were being done to the new $700,000 brick home on Jared Place. It sits high on a hill, a new development just yards from Budd Lake.

It was just about move-in ready until, police say, two teens broke in and used the builder's materials inside to trash the place.

"Someone had taken paint and dumped it down the drains, down through the bathtubs, destroyed the screens, the windows," Mount Olive Detective Michael Strada said. "There was a tremendous amount of damage done to the house."

There is a pool of paint on the kitchen island, water- and dirt-covered wood floors and dark splatters on peach-colored walls.

A tip led police to the boys. And for the destruction at the house, they're charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Unfortunately though, it didn't end there.

"We're also charging them with arson, they set a playground on fire a week ago," Strada said. "So they've been out on a tear for a while."

At the playground, flares were lit and stuck up under the two slides, melting huge holes in them.

"It's upsetting," Vasa Park board president Debbie Larsson said. "Why would you do this? I mean, this is for kids. Why would you destroy something meant for the kids?"

New slides are on order now.

Police say the home suffered $100,000 worth of damage. The teens are being held in the Morris County juvenile facility for actions that kids need to know are far from simple pranks.

"This is not ringing on doorbells," Strada said. "You're going to be held accountable for your actions."

The home had a buyer, but once the damage was done, the deal was called off. The builder and contractor's crews will be on the scene Wednesday to complete the repairs, hoping the buyer will be interested again.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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