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Dennis the Menace

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What is the name of your state? Missouri

I have written once before about a problem with a neighbor. He was making some outrageous claims to owning part of my yard and was making threats of vandalism and violence. The serious threats he only made to a 3rd party who wishes to not get involved. I am not really worried about these threats because I think he is all talk, but I am staying alert.

The only real problem I have with him is that his 6 yr. old son repeatedly trespasses on our property. I have actually heard the father encourage the son to do so.

I'm sure that this may seems petty, but this child has recently trespassed into another neighbor's yard and caused serious damage. He climbed a fence tried to get access to an above ground pool. When he couldn't get in he tried to damage the ladder. Then he kicked in all the windows on a truck cab (for a pick-up truck) that was in the yard. He brought along two other children (4 and 5 yrs. old) who also participated.

A few months ago this boy and his friend (the 4 year old) held down another child and kicked him in the head in my back yard ten minutes after I told him to leave the property.

I am also concerned that our German Shepherd will bite this child when he trespasses. She does not like him.

I caught him sneaking into our yard last week and told him firmly, but not yelling or cursing, to stay out of our yard. The father came over to our house and cussed at us and tried to start a fight. He made a fool of himself in front of many witnesses.

We are in the process of installing a 6 ft. fence which will solve most of our problems. We hope...

My current concern is for the area of our property which cannot be fenced. There is a large drainage ditch/creek at the back of our yard. We own about to the center of the ditch/creek of the portion that is behind our yard. The area we own is about 10 ft. X 75 ft. The neighbors behind us own the opposite half. The other portions are owned by many other neighbors on both sides of the creek/ditch.
I have always chased kids out of it because it is dangerous (as do some of my neighbors). It has steep sides and contains rocks, concrete, drainage pipes, and other assorted objects. This area contains some wild plant growth, trees, and poison ivy. It contains water for a short time after a rainfall. A fall into this area would surely result in a serious injury to a child, not to mention an adult.

This area cannot be altered because it is a drainage easement. I have always assumed that we would be liable for any injuries that occur on our section that we own.

This neighbor that I mentioned at the beginning is encouraging his 6 yr. old son to play on our section of this creek/ditch. Although I am mostly concerned that he will be injured, I cannot stand out there all day. I can't save the kid from his father's negligence.

This situation is extremely frustrating because this man is unreasonable and nasty. He is suing another neighbor over an injury to his son on their property. (His son ran into a tree in their yard while riding his bike...I don't see how they should be liable for that.) I would like to know our responsibilities and options in this matter.

Would be liable for any injuries that occur on our section? Is there anything we can do to limit our liability? We have posted no trespassing signs, but the kids tear them down.

I would also like to know if there is anything that could be done legally to warn the father to stop telling his child to trespass on our property.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

P.S. Unfortunately, moving is not an option.



Consider investing in and installing a video camera with capabilities of recording for long periods of time, for when you are not home. When you catch the offender in action on video, contact the police department and have them take a report. Look into your options of filing a trespassing complaint. If that doesn't work, at least you'll have some ammunition for future defense, should this child or another injure himself on your property.

But first, I'd send the offending neighbor a letter by certified mail, return receipt stating that you wish for their children/pets/etc. to refrain from playing on your property. At least with the returned receipt and a copy of your letter, you will also have some defense for any possible future court appearances and/or insurance claims.


Senior Member
"Then he (a 6 year old) kicked in all the windows on a truck cab (for a pick-up truck) that was in the yard. He brought along two other children (4 and 5 yrs. old) who also participated."

Wow!!! 4, 5 and 6 year old children who are both tall enough and strong enough to kick in the windows of a pickup truck. Either the truck was on its side..... or these kids need to get signed up with the Tennessee Oilers!!

Next time you see the kid(s) trespassing, get out your old video camera and tape them. Then call the police and show them your 'evidence' and tell them your concerns. Let the police handle this.

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