A city official says problems with Satan worshipers may be increasing, but solutions remain limited.
"There's not much we can do to make these kids stop worshiping Satan," said Ted Peacock, Orem chief of public safety. "They commit a lot of property damage, and abuse drugs and sex, and we can punish those crimes individually, but not many worshipers are ever reformed."In a Tuesday night Orem City Council work session, Peacock said he has increased the patrol of west Orem between Third West and Geneva Road, and Eighth North and Second South.
"There are Satan worshipers in all parts of town, but they seem to be most concentrated in that area," he said. "Business owners are pleading for help. More and more, kids are covering buildings with symbolic graffiti, shoplifting and driving customers away."
Peacock said officers will make life difficult for juvenile Satan worshipers. Officers can often identify them by their interest in heavy metal bands and their tendency to wear black and use certain symbols in their tattoos or jewelry, Peacock said.
"We will bring them in for breaking curfew, smoking, drinking alcohol and vandalism. That's about all we have authority to do. Then we just have to hope they get some counseling somewhere in the court or prison system.
"The danger is we will just drive them out of Orem to someplace else, like Pleasant Grove."
Councilman Keith Hunt voiced concern that Orem officials would persecute anyone for religious beliefs.
"We in Utah should be especially sensitive to that," he said.
He said he does not approve of Satan worship but does believe in religious freedom. He added that the one sure way to strengthen the faith is to persecute practitioners.
Peacock said Satan worship usually involves crimes and victims, so the Department of Public Safety should work against it.
"There is property damage and the landlord has to pay. There is drug and alcohol abuse and lives are ruined. We have documented cases of suicides related to Satan worship. What is a life worth?" he said.
Mayor Blaine Willes said the only way society will control the problem is to get to kids early.
"We don't have much success reforming the teenagers. The only thing that will work is prevention. We have to start looking for problems in schools and at home. I think we should have a trained psychologist screening kids for problems beginning in kindergarten," he said.
Peacock said parents often miss the signs their children are Satan worshipers.
"We dealt with one young man who dressed in black, had his room painted black, he listened to heavy metal rock groups and had drawings of the devil, skulls and upside-down crosses on his walls. His parents said they had no idea he was into devil worship.
"There are lots of warning signs that parents and teachers should notice but don't.
"And if they do, some parents are afraid to challenge the child and lose the child's love," Councilman Norman Woodhouse said.
Peacock said the first thing his officers do after taking a suspected Satan worshiper into custody for investigation of a crime is to notify the parents.
"We get all kinds of reactions," he said. "Some parents are shocked and upset, and some don't seem to care.
"Sometimes all we can do is prosecute," City Manager Daryl Berlin said. "If the parents don't care, there's not much anybody can do for the kids."