Rooftop climbs at local schools might sound tempting for kids, but they can come with consequences

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - It might seem like harmless fun to climb up on a school roof, but police say its dangerous and can lead to consequences if kids are caught. Both literally and figuratively, kids spend plenty of time looking up.

They crane their necks to speak with parents or teachers, and in their dreams they "look up" to their favorite actors, musicians, athletes or humanitarians. Take a cursory look at the West Linn police log in the middle of the summer, though, and you'll find that local adolescents are fascinated with something else that looms high above their heads.

School roofs.

Watchful residents or passersby call the police about kids sitting on the rooftops of local schools on a near weekly basis, and while it's not a serious offense police still caution parents and kids alike about the dangers of succumbing to your adventurous side.

"It's almost a rite of summer," said Neil Hennelly, acting chief of the West Linn Police Department. "Sometimes kids will be playing and a ball gets up there. (But) it's illegal, it's criminal trespassing, and you could get seriously hurt falling off the roof. … If you're a juvenile, we'll take you to (the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center) and have your parents pick you up."

West Linn-Wilsonville School District Operations Director Tim Woodley said that the district does not consider roof climbing to be a major issue, but it does take preventative actions when cases are reported.

"We occasionally get reports of kids on roofs, but not often," Woodley said. "And rarely, if ever, is there any damage or sign of their presence. While you may notice police log incidents, the police don't always report those to us. When we do get a report, we check the building to determine how the kids got up there and do take steps to eliminate the path."

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rosemont Ridge Middle School has been a particularly popular target for trespassing youth this summer.

Still, Woodley admits that it can be difficult to outfox a motivated climber.

"I will say kids are pretty inventive," Woodley said, "and, of course, motivated by curiosity and the challenge."

Hennelly added that the quiet nature of West Linn, and the relative scarcity of outlets for safe, kid-friendly activities, is part of what motivates climbers.

"It's about finding healthy options for kids to explore and be kids," Hennelly said. "Especially up on the hill, there's not a whole of opportunity for you."

The hope for police is that a quick foray in the juvenile system is enough to scare kids into thinking horizontally rather than vertically.

"It's not a life-ending conviction," Hennelly said. "But it's serious enough to let parents know and (take kids to the juvenile center)."

West Linn Tidings reporter Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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