The graffiti scrawled on two city residents' garages last month was written in crayon, not spray paint, and the removal of six light bulbs from the garages' outdoor fixtures caused no permanent damage.
But it was no laughing matter to Janice Arkebauer, whose Gillcrest Road home was one of the two hit by the Aug. 11 vandalism, and last week she asked city council to consider a curfew to combat juvenile delinquency.
"While this might be considered by some to be nothing more than a minor irritant, when it happens to you it is not minor," she told council. "It took significant time to scrub the words off the garage doors and replace the light bulbs."
A "reasonable curfew" would keep some youths off the streets at night and give police "another tool for controlling youths on our streets," she said.
Council voted to refer the matter to its safety committee, which scheduled a meeting for next Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss it.
Sylvania police tracked down two youths alleged to have scrawled various naughty words on the two garages and to have stolen light bulbs. Officers began canvassing neighborhoods after Mrs. Arkebauer's neighbor reported that her garage too had been vandalized.
Officers found four juveniles removing exterior light bulbs from a home on Fox Hollow Court in another neighborhood where previous light-bulb mischief had occurred, and through interviews linked two 14-year-old boys to the vandalism at Mrs. Arkebauer's home. Along the way, officers spoke with two other boys who admitted unscrewing and smashing light bulbs earlier this summer.
According to the police report, the 14-year-olds confessed to the crayon graffiti and were referred to the Sylvania Area Family Services youth-diversion program in lieu of being charged with criminal mischief and petty theft, two misdemeanors.
The four who were apprehended on Fox Hollow - three 12-year-olds, the other, an 11-year-old - were released to their parents' custody after questioning and a warning about tampering with private property, police reported. The report said one of the boys told officers that light-bulb thefts was something older kids in the community had been doing during the summer "and it seemed like something to do."
"They saw some other kids doing it, and they had nothing but extra time on their hands," Police Chief William Rhodus said.
But the incidents are believed to have occurred during the early evening hours, when a curfew would not have been in effect if Sylvania had one, the chief said. He doubted such a law would have any benefit for the city.
"The first thing you have to ask yourself is, do you have a problem in the city that a curfew would address? We do not have a juvenile criminal problem in the city of Sylvania that warrants a curfew," Chief Rhodus said.
Mrs. Arkebauer's comments to council included no specifics about what she considers a "reasonable curfew" to be but said other area communities' curfews could serve as examples.
Toledo has had a graduated curfew for youth under age 18 since December, 1992. It forbids children under 11 from being in public places between 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., while those ages 11 to 15 must not be out after 11 p.m., while 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds may be out until midnight. Exceptions are provided for youth heading directly home from work, attending adult-supervised events, accompanied by parents or guardians, or responding to emergencies.
Rossford adopted a curfew patterned after Toledo's in 2008. Monroe County imposes a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for youth under 12 and a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew for ages 12 to 16. Other area communities with youth curfews include Walbridge, Pemberville, and Weston.