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Police, toy store hope recent theft serves as community learning lesson

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 5:41 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - He’s the giraffe who made headlines last week after three juveniles were caught on camera walking into a Fargo toy store and running out with the 8-foot-tall stuffed animal named Gary.

The three suspects have since been referred to juvenile court on felony theft charges as Gary is valued at more than $1,000.

“Gary was such a valuable item, not just financially, but in the spirit of the store. He meant a lot,” Legacy Toys Store Manager KaSara Osborne said.

Fargo Police says recently, officers have been seeing an increase in aggressive behavior when dealing with juveniles, both physically and verbally.

“Kids are really struggling to process the complexities in their lives and they’re frustrated and angry and unsure on how to act out,” Fargo Police Sgt. Cristie Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen says that along with social media and the various online challenges going around, it’s not a good mix.

“Kids are impulsive and they make poor choices, but now they’re filming those choices on a regular basis. It is very much a trend where kids want to be competitive, so when these challenges are coming out, kids are stepping up to it but not really processing ‘is this a good decision to make?’” Jacobsen said.

Osborne says while she knows there is a current TikTok trend that mimics the theft that happened at her store, she doesn’t know if that’s what lead the three kids to run off with Gary.

“You see things like this happen and you’re like, ‘Oh that will never happen at my store,’” she said.

Both Osborne and Jacobsen say they hope this case prompts parents across the Valley to talk to your kids about the devastating consequences a seemingly innocent prank can have, and to not fall into peer pressure.

“Reiterate to your kids to stop and think about, ‘Is this a good choice?’” Jacobsen said.

“Something that I talked to my son about was not always following the crowd. You can make smart decisions and know better, and if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it,” Osborne said.

Osborne adds while the incident hasn’t changed the way she thinks of customers, it has changed how she runs the store. She says an employee is now always manning the storefront during busy hours.

“To have to look at people and have to constantly wonder, ‘How are you going to behave? Is something going to happen?’ It’s just a little out of control at the moment,” she said.

Osborne says both she and the store forgive the three kids, but say in order to move on and find closure for Gary, the community needs to find forgiveness, too.

“They’re not bad kids because they made bad decisions,” Osborne said.

She also says, unfortunately, Gary’s return isn’t likely after his three-day joyride across town, but says one of his relatives may take his place in the future.

FPD says the department is in the process of developing a new juvenile diversion program that is expected to roll out sometime this fall as a way to help kids who hit a bump in the road.

“They would go through an educational program being hosted, trained and taught by law enforcement officers here in the Fargo Police Department. It’s twofold, it’s to educate, but it’s also to relationship build and trust build,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen says the program would focus on those who are charged with lower-level crimes like disrupting a classroom, disorderly conduct, theft and criminal mischief.

“We just want to help them be successful through those minor mistakes without causing additional anxiety or frustration,” she said.

Further information about the three juveniles involved in the Legacy Toys case is not available.

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