The Gang That Couldn't Puke Straight

Bosnian teens steal thousands of hard-earned dollars

All the teens were rounded up over the course of a week. Police say the money had been so quickly squandered that not a cent remained. Menkovic, Didovic and Krivic were indicted by a grand jury on St. Patrick's Day and are scheduled to be arraigned on separate dates later this month. The teenagers are free on bond. In Missouri's criminal justice system, seventeen-year-olds can be prosecuted as adults.

Some Bosnians, meanwhile, say it's usually best to leave police out of criminal matters. "When I think it's a friend, I talk to him first," says Hasan, a Bosnian contractor who requested that his last name not be used in this story.

That's what happened when a Bosnian businessman had several thousand dollars stolen from him a few years ago. The man, who declined to be named for this article, correctly suspected a relative and resolved the matter himself so as not to strain family relations.

Bosnians, who comprise between 5 and 10 percent of the city's population, say self-policing arises for several reasons: a desire to give a second chance to someone having trouble adjusting to life in America, language difficulties and an ignorance or wariness of the U.S. law enforcement system.

"Our people are skeptical of everybody," observes Ahmed Jakupovic, president of St. Louis' Bosnian Chamber of Commerce.

Brkovic, meanwhile, is in contact with the Circuit Attorney's Victim Services Unit, wondering what -- if any -- restitution she might receive.

"They damaged my cars, they damaged my house, they damaged my business," Brkovic laments. "Who's going to pay?"

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