9-Year-Old Arrested for Stealing Gum Treated Like Hardened Criminal

Remember the days when a kid caught stealing a pack of gum might get lectured, or forced to write an essay about why you shouldn't steal, or be grounded? Well, those days are over, at least if you live in Post Falls, Idaho. There, an arrest warrant has been issued for a 9-year-old boy for failure to appear in court to face gum stealing charges.

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Post Falls Chief of Police Scott Haug says he was shocked when the arrest warrant crossed his desk and he saw it was for a 9-year-old boy. And he was even more shocked when he saw the original charge: stealing a pack of gum.

Haug also says it's not uncommon for a store owner to press charges against a child for stealing, even for such a small thing. Hey, I get that store owners probably have to deal with juveniles stealing all of the time, and that can add up, and they want some justice. But right now the kid is reportedly being held in a juvenile detention center. Now that I just don't get! Has he been in trouble before?

I confess I was caught stealing when I was 13. It was a cassette tape and I was in a large store. Cops were called, I was brought upstairs, my guardian was called. I was scared to death. But I was then allowed to go home. I was told if I stayed out of trouble until I was 16, my record would be wiped clean. I did and it was. No one ever put me in a detention center nor did I have to appear in court.

A relative of mine got even luckier. After being caught with stolen candy, she was forced to return to the store and apologize to the owner. No charges were ever filed. Her humiliation was enough.

Now it seems like kids aren't allowed to be kids and make mistakes and learn from them. Now they're treated like criminals right off the bat.

The arrest warrant was issued because the child didn't show up for court twice because his family had no way of getting him there. It's unclear how long he's been in juvenile detention.

Hopefully, this kid is let out of juvie soon, and sent back home, and made to write "I will not steal" 500 times with actual pen and paper. That will teach him!

How should a kid who steals something small be treated?


Image via Jamie/Flickr

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