12/06/2006

S.C. boy arrested for unwrapping gifts early

View the Police Report

By Monica Chen
The Herald

A mother convinced Rock Hill police to arrest her 12-year-old son after he unwrapped a Christmas present early.

The boy's great-grandmother had specifically told him not to open his Nintendo Game Boy Advance, which she had wrapped and placed beneath the Christmas tree, according to a police report.

But on Sunday morning, she found the box of the popular handheld game console unwrapped and opened. When the boy's 27-year-old mother heard about the opened gift, she called police.

"He took it without permission. He wanted it. He just took it," said the 63-year-old great-grandmother.

Both the great-grandmother and the mother asked the boy on Sunday where the present was. The boy replied he didn't know.

When the mother threatened to call the police, the boy went into his room and got the Game Boy, the report stated. She called the police anyway.

Two Rock Hill police officers responded to the home and charged the boy with petty larceny. He was charged as a juvenile and released the same day, said police spokesman Lt. Jerry Waldrop, who added the boy was never held at the jail.

"We wouldn't hold a 12-year-old," he said.

The Herald is not identifying the boy or his mother and great-grandmother because of his age.

On Monday night, the mother said she had her son arrested because she didn't know what else to do.

She had the child when she was 15, the woman said, and has been a single mother struggling to earn a business degree.

She said the boy likes attention and has a history of bad behavior. He has shoplifted from stores and stolen money from her, she said. The boy has also been inching toward expulsion from school, she added, and even punched a police officer last month. He was arrested for disorderly conduct in that incident.

She hoped the arrest would be a wake-up call for him. She dreads getting a phone call someday reporting he's been killed.

The boy "showed no remorse" when the police came, the mother said.

"I'm trying to get him some kind of help," she said. "He's the type of kid who doesn't believe anything until it happens."

Waldrop said the women were seeking help with a problem child. "He is a disruptive, disorderly kid."

Waldrop said he trusted the two responding officers to exercise discretion when deciding whether to arrest the youngster.

"In a case like this, if the parents and grandparents are adamant about it and they feel the child has a serious problem, I can't second-guess what the officers did," Waldrop said. 

The mother told police officers that she would have the boy placed with the state Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia at his court appearance.

Waldrop said he was not aware if Rock Hill police have ever arrested a child for unwrapping Christmas presents early.

"Yeah, it's strange," he said of the case.

Copyright 2006 McClatchy Newspapers Inc.
All Rights Reserved

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