What happened in Hamburg two weeks ago played out like a Hollywood script involving teens, alcohol and an empty house.
And it had a bad ending – most notably a family car stolen and set on fire.
A 17-year-old girl left alone at home for the weekend invited a dozen or so friends over for a Friday night get-together. It swelled into a raging, out-of-control party that grew more crowded as word – and driving directions – spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Eventually, the teenager and one of her friends screamed for everyone to leave, but the unruly crowd ignored them.
That’s when a neighbor who heard the yelling called 911 around 11:40 p.m. on June 14. When police arrived, the partygoers fled the four-acre property in every direction “like cockroaches,” said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified.
Debi Weber, the 17-year-old girl’s mother, returned to her Lakeshore Road home on Sunday to discover the family car missing, garbage bags full of alcohol bottles and damaged or missing household items.
Also missing was $400 in cash and prescription drugs, including Xanax.
The charred family car was recovered on a road a block from Weber’s home.
Weber holds her daughter responsible for her choices that night, but she said the four Hamburg police officers who broke up the party should have done more than just allow the high school students to drive away.
“They just put the kids in their cars and sent them away,” said Weber, a government claims examiner. “These kids are getting away with it, why stop?”
Capt. Kevin Trask of the Hamburg Police Department said the police officers who responded did not observe underage drinking at the Lake View party and that the teens scattered into the nearby woods when police arrived.
About 50 minors were at the party, according to a police report.
The report stated that Weber’s daughter allegedly told one of her friends to post on Facebook that a “big party” was being thrown at her home. The police report also indicates that Weber’s daughter was “extremely evasive” when she was asked whether she knew who was responsible for the crimes.
The police report said officers told those who did not flee “to leave.”
Weber wants to know why the officers did not arrest any of the teens, many of whom she believes were intoxicated, or notify their parents.
The teens got off with a lecture, she said, and did not have to identify themselves.
Later, after the arson and burglary were reported, the police began investigating. Police identified 20 people who attended the party and began interviewing them.
Of the 10 whose ages are listed on a subsequent police report, all are under 21. Eight are between 15 and 17 years old. Some of the teens live in Buffalo, Orchard Park, Blasdell, Depew and Lackawanna.
Weber said she knows teenagers are faced with peer pressure and sometimes defy parents. But the rampant, reckless partying and danger that unfolded in her home exceeded standard teenage rebellion, she said.
“To the level of violence that they’re taking it, that’s beyond kids being kids,” she said.
Before the Friday party, Weber left for her stepson’s weekend baseball tournament in Batavia with her husband, Michael.
The mother admits her daughter made a poor decision. But she said the high school sophomore never intended for the night to spiral so out of hand. Weber believes more than 200 people showed up for the party.
Cigarette butts littered the lawn, and vehicles left ruts. Partygoers trampled through Weber’s garden.
Lawn chairs were tossed into a backyard bonfire. Liquor bottles, from both the Webers’ alcohol collection and bottles brought in from outside, filled garbage bags. The home’s siding was dented, apparently by a smashed beer bottle.
Used condoms were found in every bedroom, including the bedrooms for 9- and 11-year-old children.
“They had sex in all of our beds,” Weber said.
The damage and value of stolen items ran into the thousands of dollars, she said.
The Webers live on a busy stretch of Lake Shore Road. The neighbor who dialed 911 told The News he saw cars parked in both directions, and teenagers streamed into the home in large groups.
Weber, convinced of drinking at the party, questioned whether police did enough to make sure drunken teens did not drive from the party after police arrived.
“They certainly owe it to the innocent people on the road,” she said.
Unless witnesses come forward, Weber said she was told the odds of police nabbing the arsonists and thieves were not good.
“If the kids don’t talk, they can’t do anything about it,” Weber said.
As for Weber’s daughter, she will be signing over her paychecks until the repair bills from the party are paid off.
And Weber, who has a teaching certificate, said her next course of action includes educating teenagers on the dangers of both underage drinking and posting too much information on social media sites.
Weber insists she is not out to get anyone – she simply wants to spread the word about what she believes is a culture of reckless teenage partying and a breakdown in authority.
Weber cites as evidence the tweets on Twitter she has read from some of those whom she believes attended the party.
Some of the more brazen tweets mocked what happened:
“I ran!! Hahaha, then got a ride home,” one person posted. “Like who knew grand theft auto wasn’t just a video game????”
Another tweet read, “if I steal a car will you be proud of me?”
The tweets reveal the lack of guilt about what happened that night, she said.
“Now they’re making jokes about it,” Weber said.