FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) – It was the giraffe that made headlines last week after three juveniles were filmed walking into a Fargo toy store and running around with the stuffed animal 8 feet tall named Gary.
All three suspects have since been remanded to juvenile court for theft, as Gary is valued at over $1,000.
“Gary was such a valuable element, not just financially, but in the spirit of the store. He meant a lot,” said Legacy Toys store manager KaSara Osborne.
Fargo police said recently that officers have seen an increase in aggressive behavior when dealing with minors, both physically and verbally.
“The kids are really struggling to deal with the complexities of their lives and they’re frustrated and angry and don’t know how to act,” Fargo Police Sgt. said Cristie Jacobsen.
Jacobsen says that with social media and the various challenges online, it’s not a good mix.
“Children are impulsive and make bad choices, but now they routinely film those choices. It’s really a trend where kids want to be competitive, so when these challenges come up, kids get interested in it but don’t really process ‘is this a good decision to make?’ said Jacobsen.
Osborne says that while she knows there’s a current trend on TikTok that mimics the robbery that happened at her store, she doesn’t know if that’s what led to the three kids running off with them. Gary.
“You see things like this happen and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s never going to happen in my store,'” she said.
Osborne and Jacobsen say they hope this case inspires parents across the Valley to tell your kids about the devastating consequences a seemingly innocent prank can have and not fall under peer pressure.
“Repeat your kids to stop and think, ‘Is this a good choice?'” Jacobsen said.
“Something 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 that while the incident hasn’t changed her thinking about customers, it has changed the way she runs the store. She says an employee now always mans the storefront during peak hours.
“Having to look at people and constantly ask yourself, ‘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 she and the store forgive the three children, but says that to move on and find closure for Gary, the community must also find forgiveness.
“They’re not bad kids because they made bad decisions,” Osborne said.
She also says that unfortunately Gary’s return is not likely after his three-day jaunt through town, but says someone close to her may take his place in the future.
The FPD says the department is developing a new juvenile diversion program set to launch this fall to help children who run into a bump in the road.
“They would go through an educational program hosted, trained and taught by law enforcement officers here at the Fargo Police Department. It’s twofold, it’s to educate, but it’s also to build relationships and build trust,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said the program would focus on those charged with lower level crimes like disrupting a classroom, disorderly conduct, theft and criminal mischief.
“We just want to help them get through these minor mistakes without causing additional anxiety or frustration,” she said.
Further information on the three minors involved in the Legacy Toys case is not available.
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