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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Teens Trash, Loot Home While Family Vacations

Aired May 15, 2003 - 19:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The story we are about to tell you is a lot more serious than a case of just youthful hijinks, a party when the parents are away. It happened in suburban Chicago. More than two dozen teenagers are now facing charges after allegedly trashing a family's home while the family was on vacation. This is a video of what the home looked like afterwards.
Susan Bass and her husband Daniel Haynes left for Mexico in late March with their family. When they came back a week later, a horrifying scene -- what wasn't destroyed was stolen. Susan, Daniel and her son Michael are joining us now from Chicago.

Thanks very much for being with us all of you.

Susan, let me start with you. You were on vacation. You got the call. Something had happened. When you first walked back into the house, what went through your mind?

SUSAN BASS, HOMEOWNER: I was devastated. The home was completely trashed. It had been cleaned up, but it was still, you know, the evidence of the 135 teenagers who had ransacked it was there. It was horrible. I cried.

COOPER: Yes, I can imagine.

Daniel, explain a little bit how this happened. This was basically a friend of your -- or an alleged friend, at this point, of your son Michael somehow got entry to the house.

How did that happen?

DANIEL HAYNES, HOMEOWNER: Well, he had seen the kids opening the garage door enough times on the key pad. Being the father that I am, I had a simple code, just 9999, and not too hard for him to see it. So when we left, he knew we were going on vacation and he simply dialed in the code and let all the other kids in.

COOPER: And I mean this went on for days. They were driving in your automobiles. They were driving kids to and from school. I mean this was widely known in the community.

BASS: Yes.

HAYNES: Well, they were on spring break so they didn't need to go to school, but they used the cars to haul away our personal belongings. They used the cars for bringing other kids to and from the house. I would characterize it not as a party, but as a residential burglary.

COOPER: Now, Michael, this person who did this was, you know, said to be a friend of yours early on. What, how do you feel about this?

MICHAEL BARTOLOMUCCI, SON: It has to be the biggest act of betrayal that I have ever even heard of in my entire life of stories of everyone that I've talked to. I mean having your best -- he was my best friend by far and then I go on vacation and he destroys like my entire house and steals all my belongings. It's just completely uncalled for.

COOPER: Have you talked to him since? I mean is he in custody at this point?

BARTOLOMUCCI: In the beginning he was not in custody and he was actually at the same school as me, so I had to pass him in the hallways and stuff, which was hard and having to deal with him thinking that he'd gotten away with everything and that he wasn't...

COOPER: Did he say anything to you about it?

BARTOLOMUCCI: Oh, no, but he was bragging to other people about that, oh, this, nothing's going to happen about this and I got away with it fine and everything. And...

COOPER: Could he even look you in the eye? I mean what -- this is, it's just unbelievable.

BARTOLOMUCCI: I, actually, I can't look him in the eye, to tell you the truth.

COOPER: Understandable.

Susan, what do you want to see happen to these people? A number of them have been arrested at this point, charged with relatively low level things, trespassing and the like.

BASS: Yes. The charges are very minor and that upsets me because the damage they did was not minor. And I want the other children to know that, you know, you can't go around doing things like of this caliber and expect to not have anything at all happen to you. And right now that's what these kids think. They're waiting for the next party so they can go, because nobody got in trouble.

COOPER: And, Daniel, like you said, this wasn't just a party. I mean this thing went on for days at a time. They were doing all sorts of stuff in your house, even stole some guns out of your home in a locked case, I believe.

What do you want to see happen?

HAYNES: Well, we're working right now with the detective, Detective Eueler (ph) at the Wheaton Police Department. He's been very good about this and spent a lot of time and effort on the case. The crime lab was out and completely printed the house. They have a number of kids that they're charging at this point, and I'm sure there'll be a number more.

We're seeking charges of residential burglary against all of the individuals that participated in this. In Illinois, residential burglary is a felony punishable by a four year mandatory jail sentence. There's no probation. There's no supervision. All of the individuals that were in this house were guilty of burglary. They took property in excess of $50,000, whether they participated in stealing the property themselves or just watched it. They're all burglars.

COOPER: All right, so you want them to do time.

HAYNES: And I'm hopeful that the state's attorneys office will see their way fit to prosecuting them for that.

COOPER: All right, we're going to --

HAYNES: Gilbert Cut's (ph) a professional and he'll undoubtedly do the right thing.

COOPER: All right, we're going to have to leave it there.

Susan, Michael and Daniel, I appreciate you joining us.

It is just an unbelievable story. I'm so sorry you went through this.

BASS: Thank you.

COOPER: And, you know, Michael, in particular, I know high school is tough enough.

BARTOLOMUCCI: Thank you.

COOPER: I'm sorry, you know, there are jerks like this out there, or I guess I should say alleged jerks like this out there.

Thanks very much.

Appreciate it.

BARTOLOMUCCI: Yes.

HAYNES: Thank you.

I'd also like to thank the people that have helped us, my secretary, Debbie. State Farm has been great. We've got a good insurance company. They're covering the claim very well.

COOPER: All right.

HAYNES: So all the people that have helped us have been a great deal of assistance to us. Thank you.

COOPER: All right, that's good to hear.

All right, thanks very much for joining us.

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