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CSI: My House
msauvage purple
cleolinda
I won't get too deeply into this for the sake of my neighbor and her privacy, but yesterday afternoon, we had three police cars, two fire trucks, and an ambulance at the house across the street. I saw a couple of cops come out toting two different tackle-style boxes; the ambulance casually left without turning on the siren. Two cops stood on the front porch talking for a while, and one of them was on a phone or radio at a certain point. When all three cops left and got into one of their cars, I swear I heard one of them chuckle, so it couldn't have been anything too dire. I know I sound like your stereotypically awful nosy neighbor, but the neighbor's daughter was a couple of years younger than me, we had university classes together, and apparently the neighbor has an abusive ex. I still have no idea what yesterday in particular was about, but the ex hassled my parents about trash collection, of all things, and then went back and told her, "They'll hate you now." So he's tried to use harassment as a way to bully her... but she told my parents what was going on, so it didn't actually work. My point is, I wouldn't be surprised if the ex had called in some kind of false tip and sent all the emergency services of Homewood over there.

Today, it was our turn.

Look, I have no idea what this is. All I know is, the yard was fine as of 5 pm-ish--the last time Sam was taken out front to do doggy things. Sometime around seven, I guess, my stepfather went outside and found this:










Of course, my stepfather's impulse was to try to save the grass (I think it's a little late for that), so he hosed it all off. We can't take any kind of sample, and there's no smell. However. The summer heat has dried any water from the hose on the street, but the mystery substance is still there. Whatever whoever threw, I don't think it's water-based. It doesn't have any kind of rainbow sheen, so I don't think it's gasoline--I don't know offhand what kerosene looks like. And, looking at the grass, the top half of some of it is dead, but the bottom half is still green (third picture, hi-res). Whatever the chemical touched, it fried instantly. I can't figure out what you could throw onto someone's lawn that would splash that far, but be so light that it wouldn't soak down to the root, yet be so strong that it would crisp the grass on contact...









...but not the weeds in the asphalt.

Of course, I'm not familiar with weedkillers offhand, either. Maybe the weeds won't be looking so good tomorrow.

The neighbor's ex does not sound like a likely suspect to me on this one. My stepfather is convinced that it's the gang of kids that has thrown bricks over our fence, broken flowerpots, rung our doorbell and run away umpteen times, thrown a basketball at my mother's car (she got out, picked it up, and drove away with it), and damaged the air valves on his tires in the middle of the night, one by one. The last time they messed with the tires, he nearly had a blowout on the freeway. He called the cops that time. Wait, we also called the police five years ago when we had a car parked out on the street and someone smashed out the driver's window. ON CHRISTMAS EVE. So these little hooligans are the prime suspects.

Here's my question, though: this has been going on for ten years. Ten years? Don't these kids ever grow up, for God's sake? Is it like a Dread Doorbell Roberts or something, where they just pass the mantle on as they graduate and move on?

And what the hell is this stuff? Why? It's just... so... haphazard. Initially I thought that maybe someone had parked in front of the house and thrown something out that they were trying to get rid of, not realizing it would kill the grass instantly, but the splash pattern (as it were) makes me think it was someone standing a bit further out in the street, not in a car near the curb. But, either way--why? Why us? Why now? Why ever? I never have understood why we've been harassed, and I have no idea what this is about.



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Perhaps you were visited by a UFO?

I know I shouldn't laugh about this, but "Dread Doorbell Roberts" made me snort in a most un-ladylike fashion.

Maybe the cops can figure out what the substance is and work backwards from there? Good luck, Cleo.

squirrels working to get back at you and the dolls? I'm sorry to hear that your yard got smacked on.

Dread Doorbell Roberts is pretty much the best conspiracy theory ever.

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Oh, God. These kids don't even live NEXT to us. There's one house up the street and two down at the other end. We vaguely know who they are, but we've never spoken to them, never had run-ins prior to the brick-throwing, nothing. I have NO IDEA why this started. We've told their parents, but the parents look innocent and refuse to believe it could be their kids, and as far as I know, we're on good terms with the parents. I think at least one or two of the kids may live on the street BEHIND us, because we found a ladder against our fence on that side of the yard, like they were going to try to climb in.

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For what it's worth, many solvents (including gasoline and alcohol) evaporate *faster* than water, not slower. Could is be an oil, like mineral oil?

I was thinking it was oil-based, but--what oil would kill grass on contact? And it seems to have washed off the grass very easily; I didn't see any oily residue at all.

I had a similar issue growing up. The kid across the street (diagonally across from us) was an asshole from day one--he was about 3 years younger than me, and the day we moved in (I was 11, so he must have been 8 or so) he threw water balloons at us as we were moving boxes. My mom talked to his dad, he was grounded for like a day, the end...or so I thought.

He started small, did stupid shit like ding-dong-ditch but we could never actually catch him, and I don't remember a lot of the stuff between 12-16 but there was enough that even my brother, who doesn't give a shit about much, became his enemy.

The instant this kid got a motorized scooter, he became EVEN WORSE. He'd ride it up and down the street at all hours, taking care to stop right in front of our house and rev the engine. It was even louder as he graduated to a motorbike, then a motorcycle, then a messed-up Jeep whose muffler he must have taken off. He'd REV REV REV all day long and ignore all requests, polite or not, to stop it.

He'd come home late at night, music blasting so loud that the bass line made stuff fall off my shelves. Inside the house, yes. That night I went over and knocked on the door and asked, very politely, if he could turn the music down when he got to our street. I got a bunch of bitchface and "he can do what he wants" from his mother, and the door slammed in my face.

That's when he really escalated--he slashed my tires EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for a week. I only knew about twice--my grandad told me later that he started getting up early and switching out my tires so I could get to school the rest of the time, and we called the cops and set up a security camera that was really obvious, so he finally stopped.

I haven't lived there for almost 5 years, but when I went to visit a week ago, he was still there, revving his fucking engine and making bitchface to anyone who walked by. I don't think he'll ever grow up.

I'll most likely ring you in the morning

I initially misread that as "all the emergency services of Hollywood," which I found somehow fitting.

Re: I'll most likely ring you in the morning

Actually, there is a Hollywood neighborhood near where I used to live. It's pretty low-key, but it has some Spanish-style architecture.

My dad's neighbor has a front lawn garden instead of a lawn--this is not in some suburb where there are rules about what you can and can't do with your own damn lawn, but someone took exception to it anyway and poured bleach on her lawn, some of which landed on my dad's. I don't know if that's bleach or not, but...?

But would bleach be dark on the street?

Since you mentioned the ambulance the only thing that came to mind was some sort of medical chemical or something like that.

Though in my completely amateur opinion it looks like something spilled and got on the grass. I'm guessing someone dropped a bottle of something, perhaps not knowing it would damage the lawn.

See, I kept trying to suggest to my stepfather that someone just stopped and poured something out, not realizing it would damage the grass. (He won't believe it.)

I honestly think it looks like bleach. Bleach doesn't have much of a smell after a few minutes, doesn't dry quickly, and will fry the utter hell out of grass.

Hm, this suggestion keeps coming up. It's so completely random, but... I'm sure we have some, maybe I could go test it on the grass/asphalt tomorrow.

I'm tempted to go outside and start pouring stuff on the parts of my lawn I don't like. I wonder if it's not that the pavement is wet but that it reacted with the substance to become a stain?

Seriously, I want to get a bunch of antifreeze and bleach and gasoline and start experimenting in a corner of the yard.

That is SO WEIRD.

I will say, there is definitely precedent for the Dread Doorbell Roberts thing - if your mother was a high school teacher, I'd be absolutely zero shocked by continuing vandalism. Especially if she was a high school teacher who could cause kids not to graduate if she failed them in her subject (e.g. English).

Over the years, my parents' house has had:

- shaving cream in the mailbox
- stuff stolen from it
- YEARS of eggs on the house, including way up on the second story in a place that was REALLY unreachable (guess who climbed a ladder and sat on the shingles scrubbing that off?)
- toilet paper on the trees
- tire tracks on the front lawn
- a bowl of green jello thrown at the house (points for inventiveness? I remember my sister was so angry at this particular incident, which took place when she was in HS, that she jumped on her bike and rode down the street after the car, and my dad had to get in his car and catch up with her, still pedaling furiously, to tell her they were long gone and she should come home. Aw.)
- an entire yard sale's worth of stolen neighborhood items collected in the middle of the front lawn (including 3 stolen mailboxes, which IIRC is a criminal offense of a fairly high order)
- slashed vinyl on a car that had those vinyl whatever-you-call-em panels on the outside
- broken car windows
- Spray painted "95" on the concrete front porch in 1995 (AFAIK this was the most expensive bit of vandalism - we had to have the entire porch broken out and repoured :( )
- numerous other random acts of vandalism, beer bottles, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum anything you can think of hello vandals.

The ONLY time we didn't have vandalism for several years running was when I was in high school - my friend Roger, who lived down the block and had known me since we were tiny, was on the football team, and prevented any such acts from being perpetrated against my poor, well-meaning mother who was only trying to educate idiots enough to survive in the real world. Bless him. Apparently football players are the most likely suspects in these cases, from my experience. Sooooo...I know your mom works with athletics, but it's not HS - any chance it's some of them for some reason?

Yeah, I doubt it--she works in HR with university police, security, coaches, etc. But not actually athletes, and the university is a good long way from the house, which itself is on a quiet little cul-de-sac. It's got to be someone who wouldn't have attracted attention in broad daylight right around the time people were coming home from work.

Could it possibly be from someone emptying a bottle out the window while driving? I've seen a lot of people do that. Alcohol, maybe? I have no idea if booze would do that to grass, though. Not likely, I guess.

See, that was my first suggestion--someone just trying to get rid of something, not realizing what would happen. But we're on a little cul-de-sac, and it happened late in the afternoon. Also, the splashing is further away from the curb than you'd think a car would be.

I'd dig up a chunk of the dead lawn (including roots and dirt) and have it analzed at a lab, just because.

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