SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland police are encouraging teenagers who vandalized city playing fields last month to turn themselves in.

Sgt. Steve Webster said the vandals, who went for a joy ride across the fields in golf carts on the night of June 16, caused as much as $20,000 damage to the carts and to the fields at the Wainwright Athletic Fields Complex off Highland Avenue.

Webster said the vandals returned the carts to the maintenance shed they broke into. The windshields and head ights on the carts had been destroyed. They also left about 30 empty cans of Natural Light beer strewn across the property.

Police could lift their fingerprints and conduct a full-scale criminal investigation, but Webster said that doesn’t have to be the course of action.

“We think this started out as a prank that got out of control. We think it was teenagers, not hardened criminals, who did this. And I don’t think the city is out for blood,” Webster said.

If the individuals turn themselves in to South Portland police, Webster said he will consider not filing criminal charges.

“If they don’t come forward on their own, the outcome could be a lot different,” he said.

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