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I don't talk with my neighbours much besides the occasional hello and wave when we see each other outside. I live in a neighbourhood of townhouses. 2 boys (age low elementary school, I dunno grade 3 ish maybe off size?) from different houses/families decided to ring my doorbell and run away. I caught them hiding behind my neighbours car the second time, from my second floor window. I simply watched them as they walked away chagrined trying to play it off I think.

I politely asked the boy 1 ~30 minutes later (hereby referred to as boy 1), politely to stop, and he assured me he didn't press the button at all and the other boy was the one he did it both times. He was awfully verbose about how he tried to tell boy 2 not to do it, and why it was bad. I told boy 1 I didn't want to talk to his parents about it as long as it didn't happen again. I asked him for the address of boy 1 which he gave to me, (I already had a suspicion for which address it was, but it was good to get confirmation rather than having to watch and wait). and I asked boy 1 to tell boy 2 to come ring my doorbell but not run away so I could talk to him as opposed to his parents.

(Fortunately ? , ) boy 2's story didn't match boy 1's that boy 2 rang it twice, and they scrambled to try and lie to me, maybe somebody else pressed it the 2nd time, that maybe it got triggered twice by the first press, and boy 2 tried to lie that his memory was poor. Both boys were scrambling to lie, and play it down as a prank (I don't recall ever doing any pranks like that as a kid), etc. Most importantly neither could get their story straight with the other in real time on the spot, with my previous information.

At this point disliking the boy's deception and conflicting information, I decided I would simply have the quick awkward conversation with their parents, trying to be as polite as possible. I am not interested in having the kids punished, I just don't want them ringing my doorbell and running away.

I did my best to keep the conversation with the children polite, but I have resting bitch face and I wore a facemask just to be polite for COVID.

What were some other options and ways to handle this? I understand that having a google home/nest with video footage would be best. Possibly learning game theory, prisoners dilemma, negotiation, interrogation and psychology.

I'm afraid I gave too much away and was too transparent, an unlikely but bad situation is now next time the boys will look to make sure their stories match before hand, execute pranks better or look to strike back that I narced on them with their parents.

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What were some other options and ways to handle this?

I would have shook my head, thought, "Kids are so easily amused!" and forgotten about it. I might even have smiled. The quickest and easiest way to teach kids not to ring your doorbell is to fail to react: refuse to let them see that it was annoying enough to be worth their while. I would not have confronted the kids unless it was done repeatedly.

Kids dissemble when caught in an antisocial act. I am honest (maybe to a fault), but it's not my place to call out dishonesty in others, especially grade school children if they dissemble about a mildly annoying prank. To escalate it to the parents was a bit harsh, and may well result in more pranks against you, not less. It might also cause more tolerant parents to regard you as hostile to kids.

Consider the source here: I was a child who delighted in relatively harmless pranks. In fifth grade, I remember dialing random numbers and asking the person who answered, "Hello, this is [the local electric company]. Is your refrigerator running?" The answer was always, "Yes." I'd reply, "Well, then, you'd better go catch it!" and hang up laughing. It was incredibly juvenile, and not funny except in retrospect. I know there were other pranks, but I don't remember them well. I'm pretty sure I rang a few doorbells and ran as well.

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