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Police Link Gangs of Well-Off Teens To Rash Of Vandalism

May 13, 1985

TROY, Mich. (AP) _ Several gangs of teen-agers whose affluence makes them indifferent to the value of property are responsible for a wave of vandalism in Detroit’s northern suburbs, police say.

At least three groups of no more than four or five members each have been linked to vandalism against cars, homes and schools in Troy and nearby Birmingham, said Sgt. Richard Hay, supervisor of the Troy Police Department’s juvenile section.

The groups, calling themselves the Jesters of Yort, Special Operations Group and the Urban Guerrilla Forces, haven’t been charged with any crimes against people, but apparently are engaged in ″a competitive rivalry ... to see who could cause the most damage,″ Hay said.

″Property, in a community like Troy, they’ve come by real easily in their lives, and they don’t know what it’s like to have something or work for something,″ he said. ″These are fairly affluent kids, from upper-middle class families.″

Hay, a 10-year police veteran in the Oakland County community of 67,000, said some gang members are excellent students and athletes. He said motivation for the vandalism apparently stems from boredom and immaturity.

Three members believed to belong to the Jesters of Yort - Yort is Troy spelled backwards - have been charged with committing more than $2,500 in damage against a school official’s home on March 8, police said.

Two 18-year-olds and a 17-year-old, charged with malicious destruction of property, have sought status under a state law that can expunge their criminal records if they satisfy conditions of probation, authorities said.

Another 17-year-old, allegedly belonging to the Special Operations Group, faces preliminary examination May 28 on an identical charge stemming from an April 27 series of car-window smashings, authorities said.

Troy police last year confiscated what Hay called a ″war wagon″ belonging to one of the groups - a Volkswagen Beetle with a hole cut in its roof so objects could be thrown by people standing inside, Hay said. Police found more than 60 dozen eggs inside, the officer said.

″The Jesters ... and the UGF (Urban Guerilla Forces) we were hearing about earlier in the school year, just before Christmas,″ Hay said. ″We haven’t heard much about them lately.″

Property damage in Troy has declined following the recent arrests of several gang members, Hay said, but he would not link the drop to the arrests.

Meanwhile, in Texas, members of a high school vigilante group called the Legion of Doom have been invited to testify before a grand jury that begins investigating their activities this week.

Authorities believe the Legion of Doom was formed last fall in a misdirected effort to curb thefts and drug use at Paschal High School.

The investigation was launched in April after one student’s automobile was pipe-bombed and another’s was vandalized. Swastika-decorated messages saying Paschal is ″Nazi Territory″ were left on vandalized cars and a gutted cat was deposited in a car.

Following a three-week investigation, the district attorney’s office was given information on eight students and one recent Paschal graduate who are suspected members of the group, police said.

The suspects include honor students and football players, authorities have said. All nine are white.

Police have said they want to seek state organized crime charges against the nine. Organized crime charges can be used in cases in which five or more people are involved in a common criminal activity.