Breaking and entering: the new way to party

Feb. 23, 2005, midnight | By Jody Pollock | 15 years, 10 months ago

Blazers commit crimes for a good time

Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

The front door of a white house in the middle of the block is slightly ajar. Inside, the house looks empty, except for a lonely Christmas tree in the corner. It is 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 23, and the homeowners have gone on vacation with their teenage son. Little do they know that upstairs in their supposedly empty home, smoke swirls in thick clouds and eight friends of their son are lounging on their furniture, snorting OxyContin off of their CD collection.

One of the teens places his poker hand on the table in front of him and turns to ask the others, "Who in here is sober?" His friends shake their heads and return to their daze of marijuana, alcohol and prescription pills. Two boys play a video game on the television while the others lean back in their seats, their pupils dilated, their breathing heavy and their speech slow.

When Tim's friend went on vacation and left him a house key, Tim, a junior, decided to call a few friends. An empty house without parental supervision: the perfect location for a party. Even though Tim insists it is "just drinking and smoking," hosting a party in someone else's home without the owner's consent is breaking and entering, an offense that warrants arrest and possibly jail time.

Even so, Tim is "willing to risk that for a party." This sentiment is not uncommon among a handful of Blazers who have attended parties in the empty houses of their friends. While some house parties like Tim's might only result in stained furniture or empty beer cans, others can have deadly implications and, without parental supervision, anything can happen.

Breaking ovens

When sophomore Elena Talbott left for Europe for three weeks last summer on a family vacation, she asked her best friend Stacy, a sophomore, to take care of her house. When she handed Stacy the key, Talbott had no idea what she would come home to.

At first, Stacy only allowed a couple of her friends into the house, but after a while, people began breaking in through the basement window to throw parties. For the most part, Stacy was able to clean up afterwards. However, she could not hide the fact that an intoxicated sophomore had taken the keys to Talbott's car and driven it around, scratching the sides and breaking the bumper. On top of that, Stacy could not explain the oven "they had taken a hammer to," the smashed cell phone or the window ripped out of its frame.

When Talbott and her family returned, they were shocked at the damage and at the lack of responsibility on Stacy's part. Even though Talbott's parents decided not to pursue legal action, they forbade Talbott from ever seeing Stacy again outside of school. Looking back, Talbott says she made a definite mistake in lending her key to her friend. "I would never give my key away again!" she says.

Senior Walker Davis's had a similar experience while he was at his dad's house this Thanksgiving break. Davis's friends decided to host a party at his mom's house while she was out of town. About 30 people attended the impromptu party, leaving behind beer bottles in the recycling bin and dirty dishes in the sink. Davis says that even though he found out about the party while it was happening, he did not know it would get so big.

Breaking "free"

Tim's friend, on the other hand, certainly knew ahead of time what would be going on while he was away. More than once, he has willingly provided Tim with the key to his house for the sole purpose of hosting small parties. Tim takes advantage of this every chance he gets. "It just kind of happens whenever there's an open house," he says of house parties. The biggest advantage to a party like this, says Tim, is the lack of parental supervision.

Pete, a junior who often attends Tim's parties, says he is also drawn to house parties because they allow him more freedom. "Even if we're not doing anything illegal, it's still nice not to have parents around," he explains.

It is for that reason that Community Outreach Officer Edwin Jacob of the Montgomery County Police says these parties are unpredictable and often dangerous. "If you've broken into someone's house and there's no type of adult supervision, anything could happen…rape, drugs, alcohol, destruction of property," he lists.

Officer S. Flynn of the Montgomery County Alcohol Enforcement Unit agrees, explaining that without parents present, underage alcohol consumption can only compound risks. "When you have kids that have been drinking, they don't and they can't have control over the situation," she says.

Breaking the law

On top of the possible dangers involved in these house parties, Jacob implores teenagers to realize that they are breaking the law. Even though Pete says he might not be doing anything illegal, Jacob insists that just by being in a house without permission, teenagers can be arrested and charged. "If you enter someone's home without them wanting you there, it's burglary even if you don't take anything," he says. "You'll probably get a nice little charge on your record."

When Pete held a party at junior Joel Popkin's house while Popkin was away last December, the police received a tip from Popkin's neighbors and came to break up the party. They flashed lights in the windows and kicked everyone out of the house, scattering teenagers in all directions. Hastily, Pete told the police he was the owner of the house, narrowly avoiding being charged for breaking and entering.

Pete could have been fined up to $10,000 and forced to do community service for breaking and entering. Had Pete been 18 years old, he could have faced up to 10 years in jail, says Flynn.

Furthermore, Flynn points out that unlike criminal offenses, like breaking and entering, which are sealed with the juvenile criminal record at age 18, civil violations, like underage alcohol possession, are not erased from records. "A charge like this would look really bad," she says. "A lot of kids are not getting into the colleges they want because of an alcohol charge."

However, despite the serious penalties he might have faced, Pete continues to attend parties at his friends' empty homes. He borrows keys or slips through windows and basement doors in search of a good time, regardless of the law.

If you have any information regarding a party that involves underage drinking or other illegal activities call the Party Buster Line, a division of Montgomery County Police, at (240) 777-1986.

Jody Pollock. Jody is a CAP senior (finally!) who is looking forward to another great year in Silver Chips. When she's not driving herself crazy with her impossibly busy schedule, she's singing with InToneNation and going to City at Peace practically every day of the week. Somehow … More »

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