Police: Juvenile copycat crimes spurred by social media

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copycat crimes (WLS)

Police are warning parents about juvenile crimes allegedly spurred on by social media.

Several 12- and 13-year-olds are charged with setting Plainfield dumpsters and playground equipment on fire in what police call copycat crimes. All of the incidents happened a few weeks ago in the early evening hours, police said.

"They would document their activity, put it on social media, then another group would pick up on the activity they were doing," said Chief John Konopek, Plainfield Police Department.

Konopek says a fire was set inside a dumpster behind Walkers Grove Elementary School on June 19. Lisa Hundley, who lives nearby, says she saw the fire being extinguished by the fire department.

"A few days later, the other dumpster was on fire, and my daughter and my husband both saw it start right away, just the smoke coming out, and my daughter called 911," said Hundley.

Police said the juveniles responsible for the two dumpster fires posted pictures of their activities on social media. The next day, mulch on the playground at Lincoln Elementary was set on fire by a different group of kids, who police said admitted to setting the fire after seeing the first group's social media postings.

In all, several kids aged 12 and 13 were caught. Police said this serves as a warning to parents to monitor their children's postings on social media.

The juveniles are going through an intervention program where they are learning the dangers of fire and have also been ordered to pay restitution and do community service.

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