Mafia Wars is a social-network game of teens engaged water fights occasionally played out in vehicles.
Police Chief Danny Sullins asks players to respect private property, play safe, and never drive distracted.
Usually, Mafia Wars is an innocent community-wide game not unlike paintball or tag, but for some it’s a recipe for disaster.
Not all the fun has been safe, Lumberton Police Chief Danny Sullins said: “we had a two-car accident on Sunday that would not have occurred had the (drivers) not been playing Mafia Wars.”
Drivers were distracted by the use of water-guns before one vehicle crossed into the path of another.
Luckily, no one was hurt only cars.
“I certainly want our kids to have a good time, but we can’t have vehicles, cellphones, and inexperienced drivers playing games on the road,” he said.
Roadways are not the only place where game players dominate public venues.
On Monday, April 29, panicked park goers called 911 to report a melee at the Hwy 421 City Park.
“We received several calls of a large fight involving about 40 people,” Sullins said.
Responding officers discovered the “fight” was “kids playing the Mafia Wars in a water-balloon battle,” he said.
Emergency responders did not know the kids were playing a game and Hardin County Deputy Sheriff’s were dispatched to the location as well.
Once the issue was resolved the officers left but returned later when the teens were witnessed driving donuts onto the landscape.
Police are happy the ‘war’ is off the highway, but frustrated that resources are called away from duties to attend to public concerns over the game.
“I know that we’ve answered a lot of calls over the weekend mostly about kids driving recklessly,” he said.
Other calls include suspicious persons lurking among homes after dark. The calls have come in from a variety of neighborhoods in the city.
It isn’t just police frustrated with uncontrolled Mafia Wars players; it’s residents of the neighborhoods where the games are played.
“You don’t go walking around people’s houses or near their vehicles at night,” Sullins said, adding he’d hate for someone to get hurt.
A recent request by Adam C. Brooks on Facebook (publisher of the Lumberton Ledger) asked readers whether the teenage water battles were bothering city residents brought a host of responses.
Respondents deferred from going on the record but most expressed concern about kids driving while playing any game.
Almost all agreed that kids need time to play, but cautioned that respect for other people’s property should take precedence over gameplay.
Lately, Middle and High School teens have been playing the game throughout neighborhoods in Lumberton.
Most games are without incident, although some parents expressed concern about the treatment their children have received by officer’s and howeowners.
At this point, Sullins has said the annual game is about done and hopes it finalizes without further anguish for authorities or residents.