A new type of career criminal is emerging — neighborhood teens. They’re breaking into cars, burglarizing homes and robbing people on the street, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Police and prosecutors say they are seeing hard-core youth committing burglaries and robberies over and over again and that they are largely helpless to stop what’s happening. Some have been arrested dozens of times in the span of their short life, often while they are on probation or awaiting trial for earlier charges.
In Fort Lauderdale, a police analysis shows that a small group of teens — just 50 youths; some as young as 13 — were charged with almost 700 crimes last year. They accounted for more than half of all the juvenile arrests in the city. Police brass believe the youths are partly to blame for a recent increase in property crime. “We aren’t talking about kids arrested for the first time and whether they can be rehabilitated,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley said. “These are prolific offenders, and there is no incentive for them to stop. They have no fear and know the justice system is a revolving door.” Prosecutors say teens who commit property crime usually are sentenced to probation. At most, they are sent to a residential treatment facility for about six months. Juveniles also cannot be held for more than 21 days while awaiting trial regardless of the charges or their history.