HOUSTON – A fire at 201 Talitha Street Saturday, Jan. 2 has led to the arrest of six juveniles on arson charges.
Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles said police routinely respond with the Houston Fire Department to structure fires to help with traffic and security.
“One of our officers was on the scene and had a neighbor say they saw a group of boys run from the house shortly before the fire was reported,” said Voyles. “We got a description and a short time later stopped some kids at the Pack-A-Pok north of town who matched that description.”
Voyles said the youth were detained, questioned and have each been charged with arson. They have been released to the custody of their parents pending their appearance in Youth Court.
The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to the corner of Talitha and Judy Street at 4:37 p.m. that Saturday and found an abandoned house fully involved.
“The house burned back in the summer and no one had been living there and there was no power on at the house,” said Capt. Jonathan Blankenship of the Houston Fire Department. “We definitely believe it is arson.”
Blankenship said firefighters were on the scene about 15 minutes putting out the fire.
“It damaged a nearby home and that could have been much more serious,” said Blankenship.
Voyles thanked the Houston Fire Department for their help in the investigation and he also thanked the community for coming to officers with information about the fire.
“We can’t cover the entire town and we need people to tell us when they see something,” said Voyles.
Voyles said these arrests are part of a recent spate of juvenile crimes. Voyles said he was told by the Houston Board of Aldermen last week to get tough on juvenile crime.
“The city has bought those electronic bracelets and we are putting them on kids who are convicted in Youth Court,” said Voyles. “We recently made an arrest in a burglary where a kid was wearing an electronic bracelet.
“The bracelet showed us when and where the youngster was and proved to us he was in the vicinity of the house that got broken into around the time it was broken into,” said Voyles. “The bracelet then told us where that juvenile was and we went and picked him up.”
But Voyles said police work and electronic bracelets are no good if the courts don’t get tough with juvenile offenders.
“We can pick them up and detain them all you want to,” said Voyles. “But if all you are going to do is turn them over to their parents, it doesn’t do much good.”
Voyles reminded parents they are responsible for the actions of their juvenile children and are also responsible for any fine levied by youth court on their children. In cases involving damage to property, parents can be sued for damages and forced to pay the victim by the court.
“The three big things kids normally get detained for is vandalism, fighting, being out after curfew and petty theft,” said Voyles. “If parents will take the time to know where their kids are, what they are doing and who they are with, we can stop a lot of this.”
Voyles said winter typically sees a drop in vandalism as young people are forced in-doors by the weather.
Voyles urged the community to call police or 911 if they suspect vandalism, see kids out after curfew or on private property.
“Our officers respond to all calls and we need the eyes and ears of the community to make this thing work,” said Voyles. “We only have a limited number of officers on patrol day or night. It’s going to take parents, law enforcement, neighbors and judges to stop juvenile crime.”