Coming home from a three-week honeymoon on Sunday, 73-year-old William Taylor was greeted by a horrific sight. Two recreational trailers parked in his back yard in Carson City had been virtually destroyed by vandals.
According to Taylor, four neighborhood kids, ages 8 to 10, had kicked through his fence and broken out all of the windows in the two trailers that belong to Taylor's son and brother. And that's where the rampage began.
The vandals, which Taylor said were eventually caught, took out a small axe and smashed the mirrors and glass inside the trailer. They chopped at the stove and oven and broke down the inside walls. They even climbed on the roof and hacked the air conditioner to pieces.
On their way out, the kids tried, unsuccessfully, to light a fire in the yard where they had spread some gasoline. A burnt matchbox lies a few feet from an open gas can. Taylor thinks the kids were probably scared off before they could finish the job.
His first impression of the chaos left him visibly shaken, he said.
"You work so hard your whole life to accumulate something and they can just thrash it in a couple of hours," he said. "What could drive anyone to do something like this to somebody else's property?"
The damage is extreme, easily reaching several thousand dollars.
Marks where the axe put holes in the side of the 30-foot trailer are only overshadowed by the broken remains of the pains of glass that litter the ground all the way around. Inside, every item of significant value had been pulled out of the cabinets and purposefully destroyed. The kids even went as far as using a can of black spray paint to litter the garage door with four-letter expletives.
During the 19 years that Taylor has lived in this neighborhood off of Airport Road, he said he has never seen the type of crass disrespect shown to him while he was away on his three-week trip. He had never even met these kids.
"For years this was a quiet neighborhood where we never locked our cars; never locked our houses," he said. "Now I wouldn't think of going anywhere without locking up."
According to Taylor, the kids were caught by sheriff's deputies after a neighbor, hearing the raucous, called emergency services.
Although crimes of this type are relatively uncommon for children this young, there are procedures designed to address them, said Bill Lewis, chief probation officer for the Carson City Juvenile Probation Department.
He said it is likely that in a case like this, the juveniles will not be taken into custody, but cited instead. The case would then be sent to the juvenile division of the district attorney's office, where they decide what type of punishment to pursue through the juvenile court system.
Trina Dahlin, deputy district attorney for the juvenile division, said with children this young punishments often include putting the child on probation, making the child write a letter of apology and putting the responsibility of restitution on the parents shoulders. Victims may also seek additional money through civil courts.
Throughout the state, juvenile arrests for 1997 (the last period reported) have been relatively infrequent and uncommon, but arrests for juveniles ten and under rarely occurred in previous years.
In 1997, there were no vandalism arrests in Carson City for 10-year-olds (the youngest age in state statistics) and statewide there were just 25. Combined total arrests in 1997 for all minors was 21,882.
Taylor laments the timing of the destruction coincides with his new marriage.
"It's a helluva a homecoming," he said.