The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

August 21, 2013

Accidental avenger | Crime fighting best left to professionals

JOHNSTOWN — Todd Kapcsos is no hero. We know that. But we also don’t believe that the young man better known as the “Moxham ninja” is a villain either.

The 19-year-old Highland Avenue resident is a person who wanted to do something good for his neighborhood but went about it the wrong way. His story has since gone viral, spurring Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in his honor.

Kapcsos said he thought he was doing a good deed when he allegedly put on dark clothing and a long black overcoat, picked up a baseball bat and went out in search of criminals in his Moxham neighborhood. Instead, he ended up on the wrong side of the law, as he was picked up by the Johnstown Police Department on prowling, loitering and disorderly conduct charges.

“I was trying to make a difference,” Kapcsos told our David Hurst for a story last week. “I wanted to put an end to the evil in Moxham. That’s what the black baseball bat was for.”

We believe that Kapcsos’ heart was in the right place, but he went about it in the wrong way. While it’s admirable that he wants to help stop crime in his neighborhood, lurking in the shadows with a baseball bat is not the way to do it. As it was, all he accomplished, according to police, was to frighten one of his elderly neighbors. It could have been much worse. Had Kapcsos actually encountered the heroin dealers that he says are a fixture in an alley near his home, the consequences could have been tragic.

We don’t believe for a second that Kapcsos – even if he does have ninja skills, which we doubt – would have been a match for drug dealers, who likely would be carrying weapons far more dangerous than a baseball bat.

We’re all for Neighborhood Watch programs, but as the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case in Florida reminded us, volunteers should contact police about suspicious activity, not try to take matters into their own hands.

An online document attributed to Kapcsos says that he previously was part of a Moxham Neighborhood Watch Facebook group and that he wants to be active in discussions by such a group and would participate in walks and other events to support similar groups. We feel that this is a much better way for Kapcsos to fight crime in Moxham.

And while we realize that the police have taken some heat for prosecuting Kapcsos, they must do so. After all, they can’t simply take the word of any person dressed in dark clothes and hiding in the bushes that he or she is out to fight crime or that would become the defense of burglars and break-in artists everywhere.

We hope that the police and court system aren’t too hard on Kapcsos, but his arrest certainly can be a lesson for all of us.

 

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