NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Police were assessing the damage Saturday following a scavenger hunt by more than 100 rampaging teenagers in which a live baby was one of the items the youths were directed to find.
The scavenger hunt resulted in 28 arrests and police confiscated about $10,000 worth of stolen property. Traffic signs were ripped up, auto license tags stolen and mailboxes, including the poles, were ripped out of the ground.
Among the 97 items the teenagers were directed to find was a live baby, a live lizard, a speeding ticket issued during the hunt and an application to Brown University.
Police said the hunt had the teenagers rampaging through northeast Dade County before dawn Friday.
'You could see barricades hanging out of the backs of their cars,' said officer Richard Boles. 'You could tell they had ripped stuff out the walls. Every car had pliers, bolt cutters, screwdrivers, crowbars, you name it. They didn't care how they got the stuff.'
Most of the stolen property was county or state owned and included an Interstate 95 sign, street signs and city license tags. Also stolen were mailboxes with the posts still attached.
The teenagers, all of whom were 16 or 17 years old, were in teams of three and paid $5 to participate. Police said the winners were to split the pot.
Points were awarded for each item collected and they were rated by the degree of difficulty required to obtain. The live baby was worth 100 points. Police said they had no evidence that anyone actually tried to obtain a baby.
Police obtained a copy of the scavenger list when some participants were caught trying to steal a store sign. The charges issued to those apprehended ranged from grand theft to trespassing and 18 were felony arrests. Only about one-third of the participants involved were arrested, police said.
The teenagers were released to their parents or guardians, some of whom, police said, condoned the hunt.
'Most of the parents were concerned, but there were a few parents who acted like we were putting them out when we called them to pick up their kids,' said Sgt. Al Llapur, of the Metro-Dade County police.
'They thought that this was just some thing that kids do all the time. Some of the parents are probably to blame for this since they knew what was going down. They didn't look at this like it was a serious thing.'
Llapur quoted one participant as saying the group had intentions of returning the stolen goods within two weeks of the hunt.