San Juan police arrest young boys for $25K in damages to public bathrooms

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San Juan police arrested two middle school-aged boys after they “demolished” the restrooms and concession stand at a local ballpark.

San Juan police arrested middle school-aged boys for causing $25,000 in damages to bathrooms and a concession stand at Mayfield Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Courtesy Photo)

Interim police Chief Leandro Sifuentes said police were called to Mayfield Park, located at 1419 S. San Antonio Ave. in San Juan, around 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 after a witness saw juveniles cross through a fenced area at the park.

He said that initially, police believed it might be dealing with a burglary with kids stealing drinks and snacks from the concession stand.

“All this time we’re thinking they broke into the concession stand, they took a few drinks or whatnot — you know, kids are kids,” Sifuentes said. “When we had Parks and Recreation open up the building so we could further inspect and see what damage they caused, it was bad. They literally demolished the female restroom, the male restroom, the concession stand, anything you could think of was completely destroyed.”

The suspects also destroyed a freezer and stole drinks and snacks from the concession stand.

Sifuentes said that he was on his way home from work when he heard the call and decided to see the damage for himself.

“Just imagine somebody grabbing a sledgehammer and breaking the walls, all the commodes, the sinks, the paper towel dispensers, water pipes, anything you could think of,” Sifuentes said. “We were able to get a witness who was able to identify one of them by name and the location where he lived.”

San Juan police went to the location and made contact with the suspects. One of the suspects tried to run away from police, resulting in a minor foot pursuit. The boy was apprehended.

The other suspect remained inside the house, but police were able to make contact with the parents who were cooperative and had the boy turn himself in.

“We did recover a sledgehammer and a hammer, and they were sent to the juvenile detention center,” Sifuentes said.

One of the bathrooms damaged in a vandalization case at Mayfield Park in San Juan on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Courtesy Photo

A third suspect was also identified, but the police chief said there was not enough probable cause to make an arrest.

“Out of the 10 years that I’ve been here with the police department, I have never seen somebody cost that much damage, and for no reason,” Sifuentes said.

It is estimated that the damage to the facilities will cost over $25,000 to repair. San Juan Mayor Mario Garza said that the city is in the process of acquiring quotes for those repairs.

“I was devastated for the simple fact that our city, our community of San Juan is known as a baseball town and we do so much work for our youths and our facilities so that our kids can play in nice fields,” Garza said. “For these juveniles to come in here and destroy what we have, you know, that’s totally uncalled for.”

The police chief is urging parents to talk to their children and be aware of what they may be doing. He also encourages the public to report any suspicious activity to his department. He did not place any blame on the parents of the two boys.

“Talk to your children, go through their phones, and see what they’re doing on a daily basis,” Sifuentes said. “When they go out, see what they’re carrying, what they’re taking. If there’s something that alerts you, call us up. We might be able to prevent something like this from happening, or we might be able to prevent somebody from getting hurt.”

As of Friday afternoon, both boys have been released from the juvenile detention center.