New Haven Police say three teens will now face criminal charges in connection with a Mercedes SUV that was stolen from Roberto Clemente School with two young children inside Wednesday night.
“There’s a fine line between being incarcerated for a stolen car and what we do from here because it is a dangerous situation,” Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson said.
Jacobson weighed in on what punishment teens who steal cars should face, incarceration or help outside of jail.
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“I would say the biggest thing would be counseling and trying to change that behavior but there needs to be some sort of punishment,” Jacobson said.
Police say the 14-year-old driving the stolen SUV still behind bars facing two counts of reckless endangerment after leaving the 10 month old and five year old on the side of the road. Police say another 15 year old will be arrested while 18-year-old Dulyn Foreman faces charges for using the SUV owner’s credit cards.
“It becomes a real crime of opportunity for these young people,” Abbey Anderson, executive director for Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, said.
Anderson says a new justice reform program specific to teens responsible for stealing cars in Connecticut started October 1. It’s geared to help steer them in the right direction without incarceration.
“We need to make sure that young people know that there are consequences that make sense and that they’re held accountable in a way that helps them understand what happens when you take somebody’s car,” Anderson said.
Jacobson says incarceration alternatives are an improvement but more needs to be done before the teen car theft issue accelerates even more.
“I get what the state’s trying to do and there’s been some great measures but I think we need to look at it further especially when it comes to stolen cars,” Jacobson said.