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Ore. Police Say Young Children Responsible For String of Burglaries

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Three young Portland siblings probably won't be writing reports on how they spent their summer vacations when school opens this year.

That's because police say all three are suspected of burglary, and passed the time this summer breaking into at least 15 houses in Portland and possibly some in the suburbs.

Police say the siblings are all gang members and the youngest housebreakers detectives have seen: 6, 8 and 10.

"They were caught stealing candy at a store," said Southeast Precinct Officer David Dobler.

Police then matched up the descriptions of the reported candy thieves to those given by witnesses in a string of Portland-area burglaries.

Detectives think the children entered homes through unlocked doors and open windows, stealing cash, cameras, purses and other items they could easily carry. Police said the children struck during the day, knocking on doors to determine if homes were unoccupied.

But if a door opened to their knock, the children were reportedly ready with excuses: "Got any cans?" "Can we mow your lawn?"

Because they are too young to form criminal intent, the children will not be charged, police said. However, they were taken into protective custody.

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