Boy, 12, Charged in Plainfield Arson Spree

The arson string took place between Christmas Day and Monday morning, Plainfield police said.

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    A 12-year-old Plainfield boy was charged Tuesday with arson, burglary and criminal damage to property after a string of arsons in the southwest suburb. Child psychologist Bob Walsh tells NBCChicago's Dick Johnson the boy likely was trying to communicate and the accused violence typically demonstrates a need for attention, power and revenge. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012)

    A 12-year-old Plainfield boy was charged Tuesday with five counts of arson, three counts of burglary to a motor vehicle and two counts of criminal damage to property after a string of arsons in the southwest suburb.

    All the incidents took place between Christmas Day and Monday, Plainfield police said, though they said there were no targets, only crimes of opportunity. The 12-year old boy was caught burglarizing a car early Monday morning.

    Police describe a troubled, 12-year-old foster child with a serious lack of parental supervision. Police Chief John Konopeck said the boy was not out to hurt anyone, instead vandalizing, burglarizing and burning cars in the neighborhood that were left unlocked.

    "He did show remorse and absolutely didn't want anyone to get hurt, but his motivation was to see how big the fires would grow," Konopeck said.

    With a half dozen arson fires over the last three months on her block, resident Lisa Morris said living on Hazelwood Drive in Plainfield has been downright scary.

    "Very terrifying," Morris said. "So many happening on the block. Very terrifying." 

    Since both of her cars were torched on Christmas Day in what could have been a deadly fire, she's been wondering, "if we did something. Is there something we had done?"

    Police said when they brought him in, the boy confessed to all the arson fires.

    "We just asked him, 'Is there anything else you need to tell us?' and at that point, he just spontaneously provided the information about all the fires that occurred," said Konopeck.

    Konopeck said that's a lot more cooperation than they've gotten from the boy's foster parents.

    "Obviously there was a lack of supervision involved in any case where you have a young juvenile wandering around without any supervision," Konopeck said. "At this point the family has not been cooperative with the investigation."

    Morris said she wants to personally ask the parents about the lack of supervision that's led to more than $200,000 in damage and, luckily, no one hurt or killed.

    "It's very disturbing. Very disturbing and it's a question I would like to ask them," Morris said.

    Because he's a juvenile, even if the boy is convicted on all counts, there's a huge range in possible sentences, from psychological evaluations and counseling to jail time.

    With regard to the foster parents, police say DCFS has been notified.