Three children from Illinois who were found in a vacant house on Wednesday managed to do about $10,000 in damage before they were discovered.

The 6-, 7-, and 8-year-olds got in through an unlocked back door and went through every room in the two-story house in Dixon, which is up for sale, spray-painting walls and windows, spilling paint on carpets and breaking items, Lt. Clay Whelan said.

Under Illinois law, children younger than 10 cannot be charged with a criminal offense, nor can their parents, although they may be liable for the damage, Whelan said.

The parents have been “fully cooperative” and have indicated the trio, two boys and a girl, will be involved with the cleanup, he said.

About 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, the father of the 8-year-old was contacted after he failed to show up at school. The 7-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister also didn’t show up for school. The three were last seen at Reagan Middle School around 7:30 a.m., where they were supposed to catch a bus to their elementary school.

Police and community members went on the hunt, and found them around 1 p.m.

Before the Poplar Street home, the three got into a vacant home on Division Street; they told police they found a key. No damage was reported there, but real estate agents said the box that held a key to the home was missing, Whelan said.

When asked why the kids damaged the home, Whelan chalked it up to “kids being kids.”

“The opportunity just presented itself.”

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