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Calling It “Grinching,” 3 Palm Coast Teens Vandalize Through F Section Ornaments

| December 11, 2012

In plain sight: many of the ornaments stolen through the F Section Sunday were recovered at the house of one of the suspects, at 42 Federal Lane. (FCSO)

Zachary Jacobs. Matthew Leslie Smith. James Joseph Rumph (the fourth). All 17. Each now facing felony charges for allegedly rampaging through Palm Coast’s F Section early Sunday morning, begging one question: what the hell were they thinking?

As the three Palm Coast residents described it to police, they were on a “grinching” expedition. That’s their term for the vandalism they unleashed on Christmas ornaments, mailboxes, one manger scene and one car’s rear window, which one of them smashed with a baseball bat, ostensibly because the boy was upset over a previous encounter with the homeowner, and something about a girl.

Most of the homeowners whose properties were targeted chose not to press charges. They were fine with the boys paying for the damage they’d caused. But three residents decided to press charges: Dale Roane of 52 Filbert Lane, Gary Trainor of 70 Fort Caroline Lane and Michael Mitchell of 77 Forest Hill Lane. That means the boys could end up with a record, though they could also have their charges mediated to a civil citation (a successful program in the juvenile justice system that lets first-time non-violent offenders avoid a record and, essentially, atone.)

For the Flagler County Sheriff’s office, the consequences of the incidents of early Sunday began to unfold before a deputy’s eyes and ears as he went around the F Section Monday, first to respond to one complaint, then to be flagged down by other property owners and hear from dispatchers that more and more calls about the vandalism were coming in.

For the deputy—Craig Rossi—the unraveling began with Roane, who reported that sometime overnight two large “Merry Christmas” signs were taken from his residence. Both had been hanging from the roof with hooks. Just five days earlier Roane’s car had been the subject of a larceny. Two juveniles had entered the unlocked car. (They were later identified.)

The malibu. Click on the image for larger view.

While searching for the lost decorations, the deputy was flagged down by a resident at 119 Fort Caroline Lane, who’d located an uninvited white reindeer yard ornament in her swale. The reindeer was damaged. The reindeer’s owner was were on Foster Lane, and said the reindeer would cost $100 to replace—and that a wired set of $50 candy canes were also stolen.

Next it was 70 Fort Caroline Lane, where 4-foot-tall candle ornaments, valued at $100, were stolen, after being cut from the zip ties that had secured them to the house’s columns.

At 77 Forest Hill Drive, the damage was more serious. The rear window of a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, a company car belonging to Hartford Insurance, had been smashed in, also damaging the rear panel of the car. Combined damage: $1,000. The resident at the address, Michael Mitchell, 46, said his son believed the attack was in retaliation for a confrontation that had taken place at the house in mid-November, when four teen-agers had driven to the house in an attempt to fight Mitchell’s son, according to a police report. The disagreement was apparently over a girl.

And on went the discoveries, going from damaged or stolen Christmas decorations to damaged mailboxes: somebody had been playing baseball with them.

Then Rossi (the deputy), along with Deputy Paul Simoes, went to 42 Federal Lane, the home of one of the three accused boys (Matthew Smith), and there, in plain sight, resting against a side wall of the house, were all sorts of Christmas ornaments. Many of the same ornaments that had been reported stolen, along with a half dozen cheap, domestic beer cans in the front yard.


Two of the three accused boys were at the house: Smith and Rumph, the latter a resident of 98 Brushwood Drive. As they told it to the deputies, Zachary Jacobs (who lives at 20 Big Bear Lane) had originally called them to propose going “grinching.” Jacobs picked them up in his Toyota Camry (red, ironically), and the trio went around the F Section, acting like Santa’s anti-hero.

From there, Deputy Rossi went to Big Bear Lane, and saw the Toyota parked in the driveway at Number 20. Rossi didn’t need a warrant to uncover what he did, since it was in plain sight: “I could see in plain sight,” Rossi wrote in his report, “that the front passenger seat cover was lightly covered in red sparkle flakes. There was also a large red Christmas bow on the front passenger floorboard and another random gift ornament wedged on between the front passenger seat and the door.” Jacobs’s mother allowed the deputy to speak with her son, who heard his Miranda rights and described how the “grinching” unfolded.

Jacobs, according to what he told the deputy, at one point on Forest Hill Drive parked the car a few doors down from Number 77, saw Smith taking a baseball bat from the trunk of the car, then “brag” about the damage Smith allegedly caused to the rear window of the car there. After that, Smith used the bat to damage several mailboxes as the car drove along. “Zachary had been walking behind Matt and James as they began smashing several mailboxes with bats,” the report states. By then they had a second bat in hand. They disposed of both in the woods. Deputies retrieved both. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Jacobs had smashed the rear window of the car.)

After their arrests and booking at the Flagler County jail, Rumph and Jacobs were released to their parents’ custody, pending further court  proceedings. Smith was taken to a youth jail in Volusia—the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center—where he spent the night, with a court appearance Monday.

The charges they face: felony grand theft from a dwelling, criminal mischief and felony criminal mischief.

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26 Responses for “Calling It “Grinching,” 3 Palm Coast Teens Vandalize Through F Section Ornaments”

  1. wsh302@msn.com says:

    a product of their home llife, have a good future finding a job with these charges

  2. The Truth says:

    These boys can be very thankful this holiday season. They can be thankful that they are still living and breathing. Let’s face it, they could have very easily been shot and killed for trespassing onto someones property. I hope they take this as a lesson and learn from it, they may not be so lucky next time.

  3. Alex says:

    Who are the parents?

    Where were they while this thing was happening?

    What will the parents do to prevent this or similar acts?

  4. JAMES says:

    Throw them in jail for 6 mths and let them think about what they did. Obviously not any of our leading citizens.

  5. Steven Wood says:

    They need to be made an example of so they do learn their lesson. I no more than had our Christmas set up outside and some spoiled brats like these tried to vandalize it, so I have NO sympathy for them put them in jail.

  6. blondee says:

    Hope the charges stick, and they get stuck with more than just a slap on the wrist!

  7. Deep North says:

    I agree with The Truth’s comment. They are very luck they could have been shot by the home owner who probably can use the Stand Your Ground Law. I mean I find it funny how these teens come up with these weird ideas to cause all these vandalism. Palm Coast may be boring, but who has the time to do all this bs?

  8. Stan U Ground says:

    While the meter maids with guns are stopping you on the main roads to generate revenue, Your homes are being burglarized, Your cars are being broken into and vandalised, You have to lock your doors and windows and become a prisoner in your own private sanctuary that I am sure you have worked and dreamed of very hard to buy and still there is nothing being done about these problems that have only been existant in the past couple of years, I moved here seven years ago and I Thought it was paradise, Birds in the morning and crickets at night, Now all I here are stray gun shots and sirens. Hey Flemming you really have done a bang up job ! Thank God You Are Leaving !

    • Buy more bullets says:

      I completely agree with you Stan, the fuzz around here does nothing but harass people behind the wheel. This is the second time I have had something go down by my house and also the second time I have called the FCSO to come out and investigate and they claim that there isn’t anything they can do, I feel let down because I can’t get any help by doing the “right thing” by calling local authorities. So from now on I will handle these vandalizing dildos myself, it seems like they can do whatever they want to your hard earned property and completely get away with it. I hope that this new Sheriff makes a serious impact on all of this petty crime cause before you know it this town will be called Palm Toast.

  9. confidential says:

    Parents should be liable to pay for all the damages done specially to the parked car and mailboxes.

  10. Eagle Jim says:

    I notice now days that EVER person arrested is charged with a FELONY. No matter how small the infraction, it is now blown up to a FELONY. Like jay walking, its now FELONY jay walking. Seems the system
    is arresting hundreds a day and making sure NOBODY has their American rights. Keeping them from voting and owning a gun for the rest of their lives…..Something is happening in America and its not good !!!

  11. Deep South says:

    I’m not defending these boys, but to press charges is a little to much for what they did. Many of us have done a little mischief when we were young.Yes they need to pay for the damages, but don’t place this on their records. Just some Saturday night hoopla. Robbing banks, and shooting people is one thing, but knocking over a few mailboxes, totally different. I do like the civil citation, though..

    • Anonymous says:

      @ Deep South, finally a voice of reason. There’s just something about Christmas yard ornaments, manger scenes, and mailboxes that don’t mix well with teenage males. It’s a boy thing – 40 year old men typically don’t behave this way. I agree with you, they should pay for what they damaged, and get the civil citation, but c’mon people of p’coast, ’tis the season of love and forgiveness, not hate and get-evenness. Where’s the “What Would Jesus Do?” signs ? I’d guess He would simply forgive these errant souls and tell them to go on and not do that anymore.

    • PARENT says:

      Charges should be pressed! Yes we all did things when we were young, but I knew better than to destroy other peoples property. They should pay for the damages and they should be charged with the crime they committed. They did not just go and knock down some Christmas ornaments…they stole them and not to mention vandalized other property. If you want to involve yourself in these types of activities then you should be able to involve yourself with the punishment. There are plenty of teenagers that enjoy themselves without vandalizing!

    • Kendall says:

      This was calculated and at 17 they are old enough to know better. They need to be prosecuted and put on probation. If they stay out of trouble for a couple of years it can go away. If not, throw the book at them.

    • victim says:

      They didn’t come on your property in the middle of the night. They are lucky I didn’t wake up it could have turned very bad very quick! Ever hear of Zimmerman? The thought of being put in that position scares me more than anything.

  12. Flagler Mom says:

    I’m sorry but sometimes pressing charges is the only way to get the parents and the kid’s attention and take responsibility. I think you might feel different if it was your house. I also don’t think Jesus would be real big on senseless vandalism

  13. Anonymous says:

    But a felony?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Deep South, I personally know the people who did this and let me tell you, they deserve the charges and for this to be put on their records. This was not just “Saturday night hoopla”. The “grinching” thing is not too terrible, but the vandalization of the car was much worse. They took the bat to the windows and smashed them in a malicious act of violence for revenge on a fight that the (underage) teen Jacobs started while he was drunk weeks ago. It is quite ignorant to ignore the law simply because this is a season for forgiving. These kids are nothing but trouble, and to not press charges on them now would just allow them to commit worse crimes in the future.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Disgusting behavior from teens. These are the type of kids that give teenagers a bad name, which is unfortunate considering many teenagers are completely opposed to this sort of ridiculous behavior and find such acts to be pathetic. Do these boys really have nothing better to do with their lives than go around smashing mailboxes and ruining people’s holiday decorations? Grow up.

  16. Dorothea says:

    They finally catch a few of these culprits red-handed and some think they should be given a free pass. Just call me Scrooge, but I don’t agree. Routinely causing thousands of dollars in property damage in just one night of “boys will be boys” fun and, if and when caught, getting away with a slap on the wrist when finally apprehended, will not solve the problem.

    According to the deputies responding to a “boys will be boys” night of smash and destroy this is a routine problem all over Palm Coast. They are almost never caught as they were this time. Letting them get off sends the wrong signal. Set them to work repairing the damage by replacing mail-boxes and removing spray-paint and then give them a few nights in jail to reflect. The judge had the right to expunge their records if they don’t commit more crimes in the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Expunging records does not work that way. A judge does not just expunge one’s record if they so desire and if the person has been on good behavior. I agree they should pay for the damages, even spend some time in jail, but a felony??? No. Why make more young American young males unemployable? And pray tell, what shall they do to earn money when they can not get a legal job?

  17. A Good Friend says:

    The only person in this article I have feelings for is Jayme Rumph, one of my first and closest friends I had when I moved here in Palm Coast in 8th grade. I’ve never seen eye to eye with Jayme in a lot of things and we usually never had the same idea of a fun night. He never chose the best group of friends to ham out with, but all I have to say is that, everything aside, I still love him like a brother and I just hope everything straightens out for him. On the inside he’s a good kid, I can reassure you that.

  18. deb says:

    When I was in high school we used to go around “gnoming” which was essentially stealing lawn ornaments. Now I realize it was stupid but at the time we thought it was hilarious. I don’t know these boys so I can’t say for sure but without knowing them I would say felony is a little much.

  19. 16 year resident says:

    Actually one of the kids is a “Leading Citizen”, he is a awesome kid that has done tons of good. like Over 40 hours of consessions all for volanteer at pal football games. He also cleaned my Nannys lawn up for Free, she cant do it becuase she is BLIND, he wouldnt take one penny from her. James Rumph is a good kid by me and my family. Everyone makes mistakes its Human Nature.

  20. wmk says:

    Brats! In need of serious UPBRINGING! Make them Walk the Flagler Beach Bridge or Stand on a BUSY corner in Palm Coast, (for all to see) with signs I am a Grinch! I stole your Christmas ornaments, I smashed your car window, I damaged your mailbox. Not just for a day, but for many days. Community Hours is a joke, half the time they make up bogus businesses to sign off on and never put any time at all in. Make them PAY back everything they damaged, send the parents to some parenting classes. I do believe their punishment should be harsh and humiliating and supervised. That means the probation officer needs to do his/her job. but I do think a felony charge is just too much, These boys could grow up and actually be a benefit to society. A felony charge limits a world of opportunities.

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