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Teen 'ninjas' avoid jail time

Mail Tribune

ROGUE RIVER — Three teenage "Ninjas" whose summertime nocturnal pranks turned into criminal acts will pay restitution and perform community service after the trio pleaded guilty to second degree burglary charges.

The three boys, two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old, all of Rogue River, spent several days in Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center after their late-night antics morphed from stealthing across rooftops and ghosting through yards to stealing from neighborhood cars and homes. Each will now have to make financial restitution to their victims, attend victim/offender programs and serve up to 100 hours of community service, said Jim Adams, Jackson County court administrator. The Mail Tribune does not release the names of juvenile criminal offenders in most circumstances.

Jack and Sandra Pyle's home was one of three properties burglarized during the teens' late-night crime spree. The Pyles were on vacation when the burglars broke into their garage. The trio's attempts to gain entry into the house was foiled after a neighbor scared them off. However, they did take several hundred dollars' worth of yard ornaments and place them in the street where several were broken by passing cars, said Jack Pyle.

The boys were taken into custody Aug. 21. Initially charged with two counts of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary, the teens pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary earlier this month and were sentenced by Jackson County Juvenile Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia, said Adams.

The Pyles attended the boys' hearings. They are glad to hear the boys will be making restitution and performing community service, said Sandra Pyle.

"We talked to one of the boys and he genuinely feels horrible about it. He seems like he's really going to turn his life around. We'll see," Sandra Pyle said.

At a community awareness meeting organized by the Pyles in September, the room buzzed with questions and concerns as neighbors discussed the burglaries.

Several members of the audience — which included officials from Rogue River and Gold Hill, about 50 local seniors and a few younger adults — wanted to know why the parents had allowed their children to be out in the middle of the night committing crimes. Others said they were concerned the boys were getting too much attention for their bad acts.

The news story and their MySpace Web site received enormous attention on the Internet, said Cory Carnes, a private security firm representative.

Sandra Pyle said Wednesday the boys' punishment injects the harsh reality there are legal consequences for their behavior.

"I think it was just a thrill thing that got out of hand," she said. "I think the boys genuinely are sorry and I think it's over. I feel good about that."

At least seven other children participated, Police Chief Ken Lewis said. But evidence pointed to the three boys who were arrested as the only ones committing serious crimes, he added.

Lewis said all the parents have been very helpful during the investigation process.

The three boys were on sleepovers when the more serious incidents occurred, Lewis said. Parents had allowed the boys to spend the night in a backyard tree house, and had no knowledge the boys had crept out in the middle of the night, he said.

Lewis stressed a lack of 24/7 policing in town probably played a part in the duration of the "ninja's creeping activities."

Sandra Pyle said a Neighborhood Watch is being formed.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.