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Federal Way business owner says teens aren’t being held responsible for vandalism

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- A contractor in Federal Way says teens broke into his work yard and caused thousands of dollars of damage. But they weren’t locked up for their crime, so now he’s trying to warn other businesses in the area.

“Enough is enough, I’m just not going to take this anymore,” says Michael Murphy.

He got angry when he came to DBM Contractors last Friday and found out someone broke into his work yard for the third night in a row.

“It was escalating, and that to me was the biggest concern ... this escalation.”

First, there was threatening graffiti, then dozens of broken windows and damage to expensive construction equipment.

“I’ve got about $50,000 in direct damages,” says Murphy. “But that equipment ... that I can't put out on my job site is another, arguably another $50,000 a day in lost revenue.”

After Murphy and his workers put up signs warning other businesses that it might be not safe to set up shop in Federal Way anymore, police solved the case.

“There were other cameras in the area,” says Federal Way Police Commander Stan McCall. “We were able to get some pictures of suspects climbing back over the fence and leaving.”

They arrested three teenagers who live nearby. But because the juvenile detention center does not take suspects in non-violent property crimes into custody, police had to release them back to their parents. They say the teens will still face prosecution.

“I’m confident that the suspects will be charged with a felony crime,” says McCall. “It’s a long time from the end.”

But Murphy says the teens need to face harsher consequences now, to prevent them from hurting another business. He says the criminal justice system doesn’t work if property crimes aren’t taken more seriously.

“To me, we're failing.”

Murphy says the father of one of the teens did reach out to him Thursday evening.