SHOW LOW — Police are working 60 cases of serious criminal damage that detectives believe were perpetrated by juveniles.
So far two 17-year-old Show Low males and a 17-year-old Lakeside male, along with a 16-year-old Show Low male juvenile, have been arrested and charged with criminal damage related activity that allegedly occurred between Dec. 19 and 26 during which the boys reportedly participated in either shooting out or smashing out vehicle glass, residential windows and windows of local business at least 60 times.
So far the estimated damage in total comes to around $50,000 and could go higher because police are still looking for more possible victims and maybe more people who may have been involved in causing the damage.
And the estimated $50,000 in damages is a low one.
The actual cost of any restitution, which will likely be part of any agreement between suspects and prosecutors, can be significantly more.
Arizona law allows for compensation of more than just the windows themselves that were smashed out.
“For a violation of subsection A, paragraph 5 of this section, in determining the amount of damage to property, damages include reasonable labor costs of any kind, reasonable material costs of any kind and any reasonable costs that are attributed to equipment that is used to abate or repair the damage to the property,” Arizona Revised Statute 13-1602 states.
Then there is the possibility of victims suing the parents of the juveniles convicted of the criminal damage.
Arizona law allows victims of juvenile crimes to sue the parents for up to $10,000 for each willful or malicious act the juvenile committed according to Arizona Revised Statute 12-661.
The cost of restitution that might come as a result of any such suits could be high for those parents.
It will be up to Navajo County prosecutors to decide who to charge and with what crimes once the ongoing investigation is over.
The Independent consulted with a local attorney about the possible ramifications the juveniles could face.
Prosecutors have the option of charging each defendant with a felony if there is evidence they caused at least $1,000 damage per incident in which they participated.
That means if they choose to file charges now against the four juveniles arrested so far, the charges could be either misdemeanors of felonies depending on whether prosecutors choose leniency or to play hard ball.
Authorities could also temporarily dismiss the charges thus far, wait until the boys turn 18 and charge them as adults. Law enforcement has one year from an incident to file misdemeanor charges and seven years to file felony charges, so they have time on their side to wait for the suspects to reach adulthood.
If the per incident damage is less than $250 per incident, the suspects could only be charged with misdemeanor crimes.
But that is unlikely given the cost of replacing even small residential and business windows, let alone the cost of auto glass like a windshield that involves at least 60 different incidents.
Police ask anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of these crimes, or knows of anyone involved in committing them, to call the SLPD at 928-537-5091 and ask for Sgt. Butora who is one of the investigators in the case.