February 8, 2013 5:05 PM   Subscribe

My family's house was egged. What can I do, and how should I react?

Well after dark around 7 pm., someone threw eggs at our dining room window, which fronts on the street, and onto our back porch. We didn't see who did it. Other people throw convenience-store garbage into our bushes, which also front on the street, but this egging has not happened before.

This is an upscale suburban neighborhood, but the street in question is a busy one.

Without going into specifics (MeMail me if you need to), I am worried that work has followed me home, in the police or spy novel sense. I'm a school librarian. I'm not allowed to talk much about the school here, but it serves "at-risk" students. I've let the school admin know.

It's more likely that the culprit is neighborhood kids, who have toilet papered other people's yards in the neighborhood.

What should I do? Should I report the egging to the police?

I know that it's probably disproportionate to get upset over petty vandalism, but after my work day I really don't appreciate coming home to an egging, and I am angry. It's my parents' house, they are getting old, my mother is chronically ill. Of course, the culprits don't know that and couldn't care less.

On the other hand, I an worried that we've been targeted as the "Other." My family is of a different ethnicity, religion, and political party from most people in this neighborhood, which is mostly white, Catholic, and Republican. I also look like a stereotypical lesbian (very short hair, pants, mannish winter coat). I maybe look like the neighborhood weird person because I have a hearing disability and I don't drive, so I walk a lot.
posted by bad grammar to Law & Government (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It never hurts to tell the police stuff like this. Even if they just build a bigger picture from it.

I'm sorry this happened. If you lived in MY neighbourhood, the eggs you'd get would be in cakes. Hugs.
posted by taff at 5:08 PM on February 8, 2013 [12 favorites]

Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter why your house was egged, and you should probably stop considering that in what you do. You need to decide how much this bothers you, as it is likely the only thing you can do about it is either move or (possibly) leave your job if that's really related. You could consider a home security camera setup, but be cognizant that the price is likely much higher than the cost of cleaning your house.

Yes, you should report this to the police. Expect them to do nothing except possibly take pictures. However, this establishes a paper trail if the problem repeats.

This is one of those really crappy questions where the answer is, "you can't do anything about this unless you want to take this into your own hands, and that is probably not worth your time".
posted by saeculorum at 5:12 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may report it if you like, but I suspect the police have bigger fish to fry, and I'm not sure how they would catch the perpetrators even if they wanted to pursue it. You certainly could be right about work following you home - this is definitely the sort of thing kids in my high school used to do when they got bored. But I'm not sure there's much you can do about it unless you have some evidence as to who did it.

They do sell some pretty nice, affordable little webcam type cameras these days if you want to keep an eye on the exterior of your house.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:13 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

This could have been random. If it happens again, I'd report it maybe. But, kids do stupid stuff all the time, and may not even know whose house they were egging.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

The best way to handle vandalism is to clean it up immediately. You don't want to give the losers any time to drive by with their friends and "appreciate" what they've done.

The other thing you can do, for yourself, is not sacrifice your peace to them. All the worrying about the ways you are atypical is in your head and you can control it. You do not need to let these losers control you and take away your enjoyment of your life, home, and neighborhood. It's eggs, nothing more. They have no power over you and throwing eggs is something kids and/or losers do when they are powerless and bored. If you look at it right, might it even become laughable? Make sure your response is proportional. Don't make up reasons, without evidence, why you are unsafe or especially targeted.
posted by fritley at 5:18 PM on February 8, 2013 [11 favorites]

When I was a kid - someone poured housepaint all over my parent's cars. Racism was pretty overt back then - and people were doing shitty stuff to my parents alot. We called the police who took down a report - my parents visited the neighbours to let them know what happened, and for them to make sure they took precautions with their own property. We lived in a pretty good neighbourhood (Westside Vancouver)

But it was also a very subtle but definite way that my parents showed that they would not be bullied by nieghbourhood kids and their parents better take notice. Nothing like that happened again.

My point to you is not be fearful - eggs are pretty harmless and if they wanted to do damage, things could be worse. But at the same time - don't back down, and assert your right to live where you want to. Call the cops, clean up the front porch, engage with your neighbours. If it is work related - then start the paper trail now with the police. No one is the boss of you except you.
posted by helmutdog at 5:47 PM on February 8, 2013 [13 favorites]

Practically speaking, wash it off NOW. It will be really hard to get off once it dries. Sorry this happened to you!
posted by cecic at 5:51 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

As it stands, you should put on a bathrobe, go out on the porch, shake your fist in the air impotently, mutter about, "damn kids," then get a hose.

If it happens again, or if you really think that as the librarian you're pissing kids off that much, go ahead and file a police report.
posted by cmoj at 6:11 PM on February 8, 2013

Personally I'd call the non-emergency police number and say, "Hey, I just want to file a report about someone egging my house." While the police probably can't do anything about this particular incident, if there have been other reports of vandalism in the area they can let you know (which may set your mind at ease) and it may help them catch the likely-youthful hooligans. If you are harassed again, you will have a paper trail documenting the harassment. In upscale suburbia, it's also likely the police will step up patrol in the area for a few weekends and may catch the dumb kids.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:22 PM on February 8, 2013 [9 favorites]

I have been the kid that egged your house. To be clear, I never actually egged anyone's house, nor was motivation against an "Other" ever involved. I grew up in a small 5-6k person town and my high school friends and I got into a prank war with other kids in our school, which sometimes reached epic proportions. We're talking giant water balloon slingshots to fling rolls of tp into huge fir trees, bean bag chairs slit open across lawns, blacked out commando face paint, full size truck beds filled with tp, lookouts, the works. We were actually shot at several times by teenage girl's bathrobe-wearing fathers with shotguns... but I digress. Here's what you do:


That is what strikes fear into the hearts of kids. Add fake security cameras (if you're so inclined) and you're golden!

In addition, I'm sorry you're going through this rough time. Best to you and your family!
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 7:23 PM on February 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Two things:

1) Other people throw convenience-store garbage into our bushes, which also front on the street

2) This is an upscale suburban neighborhood, but the street in question is a busy one.

My interpretation is that your property is near downtown or in an area currently undergoing gentrification in a medium-large city and the convenience-store garbage is because of bar-goers and assorted intoxicated people.

If this is the case - this kind of crap happens. Calling the cops is just going to make more work for the cops who won't appreciate it.

If on the other hand you're living in a city of less than 1M people, and your neighbours don't have garbage strewn on their lawns - then yeah, racism. Calling the cops on their non-emergency line would be a great start to getting some conversation amongst the community.

If your neighbours are also similarly affected, then it's possibly a gentrification or public drunkeness issue. Can't do much unless it happens with some regularity and/or your neighbours are hit, too.

Do mention this to the principal at your school and the other teachers and staff - they might be able to help. Usually staff may know a lot more about these things than teachers or the principals.
posted by porpoise at 7:38 PM on February 8, 2013

Being a victim of vandalism feels absolutely awful - it's a violation, it shatters your feelings of control, it spikes your adrenaline, you have to clean up someone else's mess. You want to doooooo something about it. Justice for the egged!

The person who threw the egg probably thought about it for 15 seconds, and probably wouldn't recognize your house in the daylight unless it had egg on it, and it's over.

In a day or so, your fight-or-flight response will have calmed down. You can certainly tell 311 about it, and make sure you get it all cleaned off, but you will also barely remember this in two weeks.

I once popped capillaries in my eye from my rage at finding someone had thrown a chicken nugget ranch dressing dip at my car. We take our property really seriously and it makes us feel very bad to have it violated.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:15 AM on February 9, 2013

I am sorry this happened to you. I know how it feels to feel unwelcome and persecuted in your own neighborhood.

When I was growing up, my mother's home was vandalized repeatedly in various neighborhoods. Our house was egged a couple of times; my mother's car was keyed, our tires were slashed once, and once we had a rock thrown through our window. (The reason this kept happening was that my mother was in a lesbian relationship with a live-in partner, and we lived in the Midwest, and it was the '80s and '90s.)

It's hard to know how best to react when this sort of thing happens. Petty acts like this are annoying but don't do much real physical damage; what's disturbing is the fear you can't shake that the pranksters might take their attacks to the next level.

Calling the police to report it is a good idea -- you want to start a paper trail now in case these egg-throwers come back -- but unless you live in a neighborhood with an extra excellent and/or bored police force, keep in mind it's not very likely that the police will take the time to figure out who did this. A couple of years ago, I had someone try to break into my house while I was in it and the police did not even take fingerprints (in fact, they destroyed all the evidence by walking around near the storm windows that had been pried partway off and messing with the windows themselves to see "how secure" they were.) Their attitude was that they had better things to do than investigate failed break-ins, and it was probably neighborhood kids, and I should just be happy that no one was hurt and nothing was stolen. They did, however, at least send a patrol car by my house a few times a day for the next few days to check on things, which did make me feel a lot better. (But that was not hard for them since the police station is within walking distance of my house.)

What I think might make you feel better is installing a security camera (not a fake camera, a real security camera) on the property, so that if this does happen again, you will know who did it. Knowing who did it will help you know how to respond. If it's kids from school, you can deal with it through the school. If it's neighborhood kids, you may be able to talk to their parents. If it's adults, you know there is a more serious issue and can offer the police photo evidence.

Also, this won't work so well in winter if you live in a place that gets hard freezes, but since it's nearly spring (in my neck of the woods anyhow) I'll recommend it: in addition to motion-activated lights, you can get motion-activated lawn sprinklers. These are meant to deter deer and rabbits who want to chomp your prize roses, but can you imagine a group of teenagers coming up to your house and getting unexpectedly soaked? They might still throw their eggs, but it would probably deter them from sticking around too much longer.

Also: I'd recommend talking to your neighbors -- all of your neighbors, up and down the street, not just your next door neighbors -- and telling them what happened. Don't tell them who you think did it -- just tell them what happened. Your neighbors don't want their houses egged, either. If you tell everyone on your street that they need to keep an eye out, maybe someone will see something next time.

And find out the contact info for your local city councilperson / neighborhood association leader / neighborhood watch captain, etc. Talk to these people, too, and tell them you're concerned about the recent increase in vandalism on your street, and you want to know what the neighborhood can do as a group to stop it.
posted by BlueJae at 9:58 AM on February 9, 2013

I agree with the people who say it might not be targeted at you. My car has been egged a few times over the years -- once on Halloween, but other times on random-to-me nights -- and my family doesn't stand out in the neighborhood at all. (This is me attempting to be reassuring.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:02 AM on February 9, 2013

Response by poster: I didn't want to threadsit, but thank you.

My folks cleaned the egg off immediately before it could freeze or dry.

There is a neighborhood watch listserv that covers incidents of this sort (as well as actual breaking and entering into people's cars and homes). I will write them.

If it happens again, or any more serious vandalism, I would be more upset and contact the police.
posted by bad grammar at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2013

I know it's easy when one is a member of a much-persecuted group to be worried that any less-than-stellar behavior directed towards oneself is due to membership in that persecuted group. But so far you have no real evidence that that's the case. And I think it's better not to go crying racism, sexual-orientation-ism, or any other -is, unless you have some sort of solid reason, other than worry, to believe that.

Egging doesn't actually damage property, just requires cleaning, and this is the type of thing kids do *regardless* of how the person who lives in the house dresses, where she works, etc. When I was a kid we routinely egged and toilet-papered houses on Halloween, and I do not believe most of us even knew whose houses they were. I think you are likely reading too much into this.

I guess you could go ahead and report it to the police, in order to start a paper trail in case it escalates to something more serious. But after that I would make every attempt to clear it from my mind and focus on other things.
posted by parrot_person at 1:33 AM on February 10, 2013

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