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Pranksters Vs Homeowner

Friday, July 23, 2010 - 8:41am

A New York homeowner is facing charges after stopping a teenage prankster in his home.

Late Saturday night, in his Delmar home, Daniel Van Plew says he wasn't sure at first what was going on.

"I was afraid. I thought I was being robbed. I have two little kids. Put yourself in my shoes. You're going to bed and it's scary," said Van Plew.

"He saw figures right next to his house. Had no idea. And then the doorbell rang and there's people running and there was subsequently a pounding on the back door. Is this a home invasion? What is this? This is like an assault. He's got little kids," said Peter Gerstenzang, Van Plew’s attorney.

It turns out it was four teenagers from a neighborhood sleepover, apparently playing a prank.

Van Plew told police he chased them before tackling one near the street and bringing him into the house so he could get the police.

The teen had cuts and bruises and was not charged.

Teens can't be charged with a violation, like trespass, in family court.

His parents wanted to press charges and Van Plew was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child and harassment.

The teenager's father, Rob Madeo, said that he did the best he could with police standing in his living room and his son looking like he was roughed up.

As for the charges, a legal expert said a major problem with them is Van Plew's intent.

"when the homeowner stops someone and calls the police, his intent is to stop a crime, not endanger the welfare of a child. Not annoy or harass the individual. So I think that's a fundamental issue here: can these crimes be proven?" said Paul Derohannesian, an attorney.

Derohannesian said Van Plew could also argue he was justified.

"A homeowner is entitled to use physical force to stop a trespass or attempted trespass."


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