Most acts of vandalism take place when no one's around. By the time they're discovered, the perpetrators are long gone.
That wasn't the case when a hundred or more decorative holiday light bulbs were unscrewed from their sockets, thrown at cars and smashed on the pavement at the Rancho Murieta Association Building Friday night. (See coverage.)
While that was taking place outside, scores of kids were inside playing video games, eating pizza and drinking soda. It was the opening night of the Optimist Club's video arcade, a special event the club offers for the younger members of the community every year at this time.
The free-for-all came to an end when someone notified the adults overseeing the event inside the building, and Security was brought in. Appalled club members worked on gathering information to identify the culprits.
On Tuesday, Security Chief Greg Remson updated the Community Services District Security Committee about the incident. One of the vandals has admitted to taking part and is being dealt with, he said, while two more are being investigated.
"Where we are at the end of the lightbulb caper is one (participant) confirmed and two we're working on, and then probably a handful that will never come forward," said Remson.
"I've got calls in to a couple parents and we'll see how that goes. ... RMA has chosen to handle that in-house with restitution and possibly some community service. ... They care, but they just don't want to make a criminal case of it."
CSD Director Bobbi Belton asked why Remson hadn't offered a reward for information about the matter. The CSD board recently approved a policy authorizing a reward of up to $1,000 for information about crimes.
"The reward specifically states ‘arrest and conviction.' RMA declined to file a crime report. Therefore the reward doesn't apply," Remson explained.
The RMA's approach to the vandalism incident is in keeping with recent advice from a deputy district attorney about ways the community can deal with juvenile offenders. Speaking at a CSD meeting, Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Zdobnikow suggested using civil remedies along the lines of homeowner association rules to "hit parents in the pocket."
In addition to the update on the vandalism incident, Remson reported on the following at the meeting.
-- During the month of November, Security patrol officers issued 41 citations for speeding and 22 for stop sign violations.
-- Nov. 14: A car parked in the Gazebo parking lot was vandalized. "Generally we don't have a lot of issues over there as far as vandalism to parked cars," Remson said.
-- Nov. 21: A non-injury accident occurred on Nueva Drive when a motorist had a sneezing attack and hit a parked car. "She started sneezing and just swerved off the road. Luckily she was on Nueva and not 16," said Remson.
-- Nov. 22: Graffiti was found at Gazebo Park on a table, the sidewalk, playground equipment and in the men's restroom. Additional writing was later found near the spillway at Laguna Joaquin near Lago Drive and Pescado Circle.
"It looks like the same type of stuff that's been popping up," Remson said. "One or two people, we hope."
He said Security filed a report with the sheriff's department and also notified the POP officer.
-- Nov. 23: A non-resident was arrested by the highway patrol for drunk driving after Security patrol detained the motorist. The driver was at the Country Store about 2 a.m. when "she backed out, made a U-turn on the highway and drove down the wrong way, and came back, pulled round the other way and ended up parked in front of the fire station," Remson said. "She wasn't sure where she was."
-- Nov. 28: Security Sgt. Jim Bieg issued a CSD ordinance citation for a minor in possession of alcohol after an 18-year-old former resident walked around the corner with a beer in his hand as Bieg was locking the restrooms at the Gazebo. The charge is prosecuted in the court system and minors can lose their driver's licenses, Remson said. "That's the hammer. The last one I had, he was 19 and they took it until he was 21. Everyone wants to drive, especially teenagers."
Remson said the teenager had moved out of his parents' home in the community but no one had notified the CSD to deactivate the bar code on his vehicle.
-- Throughout the month, there were complaints of smashed pumpkins, loud music and one home was reported egged.