Police chief urges parents to ‘take ownership’ of children’s behavior following uptick in juvenile theft, vandalism

WEST YORK BOROUGH, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- UPDATE: West York Borough Police found additional vandalism on Tuesday morning.

They posted the following message on their Facebook page:

During night shift patrol at 2:30am at Shelly Park, officers discovered that the “Bulldog Book Exchange” to be vandalized. This book exchange program is a free library that was created and painted by the youth for the public. It is disappointing to see the hard work put into these libraries are being ruined by juveniles that can not appreciate or take use of the resources provided to them. The plastic center of the door was broken and ripped out and the wooden door frame was taken off the hinges. Pictured is the condition the library was left in.

We echo our Chief in the seriousness of holding the juveniles accountable for destroying property in West York Borough. We will perform all proper procedure to discover who was involved in destroying the free library. Parents, if you know your child was at Shelly Park on 7/09/18, ask them if they are aware of the damage. You may call our station at 717-854-1975 for any tips. If you are a witness and have a description and a particular time please contact us as well at the provided phone number. Be safe!

PREVIOUSLY: Police in one York County community are dealing with a number of crimes this summer, including car thefts, vehicle break-ins, and vandalism.

Now, the West York Police Chief is speaking out after those crimes in the borough.

Chief Matt Millsaps posted on Facebook, saying some kids are causing the trouble and calling on parents to be more responsible for their children.

Part of the post reads, "take ownership of their [children's] behavior" and "your children are your responsibility - hold them accountable."

Another portion of Chief Matt Millsaps post reads, "If you have children aged 8-17, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are behaving. As a parent, know where they are at and what they are doing at all times.”

And "If you decide to turn a blind eye to their behavior - the police will not be turning a blind eye on you."

The post created quite a discussion both online and in the community.

When a juvenile breaks into a car or vandalizes someone’s property, who is to blame - the kid or the parent? FOX43 asked some parents what they think about that.

“If parents are held accountable, then they might actually step up and do something about it. That’s what these kids need in their lives, some kind of role model that is going to guide them," said Chase Horner, a father.

“They’re learning from their parents, and if their parents are going to enforce whatever, the rules, they’re not going to feel like they should listen to anybody else rules," said Gwen McFadden.

Gwen McFadden takes pride in her garden on West Poplar Street. One time, though, she witnessed some kids messing around in it.

“They would like step up over there, and run through it, or whatever, and I would come out and say, ‘what are you doing?’ and of course, their response was ‘eff you!'" she explained.

Police say kids are to blame for other damages and thefts in the borough too.

Authorities plan to take action against kids who repeatedly break the law as well as the people who raise them.

Another mom says that seems reasonable.

“Depending on the circumstance, for kids who get in trouble the first time, I say hold that child responsible, but get the parents involved. If it happens again, then I don’t think the parents are going their job, and you should put them somewhat to blame," said Leslie Dejesus, a grandmother.

Leslie Dejesus says it’s important parents talk to other parents - especially since kids have a lot of free time right now.

"Teenagers are eager to get out. It’s summertime, and a lot of parents give them the freedom, but it would be nicer if parents paid more attention to who their kids are around," said Dejesus

Although it's summertime and kids may not have much to do, Chief Millsaps said in his post boredom is not an excuse for crime.

He wants people to report even the smallest of vandalism or thefts because officers take those cases seriously.

He also urged parents who need help controlling their kids to reach out to the police department.