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Baltimore Police: Teens behind spike in robberies

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Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-29 08:40:56-04

Police are seeing a rise in robberies across Baltimore. Year-over-year there's been a 12 percent increase and police are seeing a trend in the people committing the crime.

They said groups of teens are being reported as the culprits, and even after being arrested they're continuing to victimize certain neighborhoods.

“We see everything from electronics to wallets to purses anything basically that they can get,” said Baltimore City Police Major Kimberly Burrus with the District Detective Unit.

Bikes are another target in certain neighborhoods.

“I saw some kids show up with bikes then show up with more bikes and then I noticed they had some pretty long industrial bolt cutters and that's when I called it in,” said Michelle Prieto, a Patterson Park resident.

On Monday, Prieto called to report a group of teens believed to be stealing bikes in the Patterson Park neighborhood. She said there was an immediate response by police.

“The response was huge. I think there's a huge assumption out there that the police aren't doing anything or that they don't care or that bike crime is petty and they're not interested in that. There were four marked cars, Foxtrot came out to look, they were definitely trying to find these kids,” Prieto said.

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In one year, robberies have climbed 12 percent overall in the City, 38 percent in the southeast district, and police say some teens are behind the statistics.

“It’s a matter of you have it, I want it, so I'm going to take it, so that's what we're seeing. And once we make an arrest, we see another group of juveniles engage in the behavior. Even once we make an arrest some of the same juveniles that have been involved tend to become recidivists and continue the behavior,” Burrus said.    

It has some people wondering what can be done to reverse the trend.

“I definitely think the school system, also more money in the school system just to be able to provide more programs, have more recreation centers, be able to give parents resources to help these kids,” said Nadia Williams, a Canton resident.

“I think a lot of mentoring programs should be involved in the process, care to development,” said Dante Wilson, CEO and founder of Reclaiming Our Children and Community Project, Inc., an organization that provides services to youth and families in impoverished situations.

Wilson has firsthand experience working with some of the kids committing these kinds of crimes. He said he’s currently working with a nine-year-old girl who would steal. He added that kids engage in the behavior for a number of reasons from poverty to gang activity.

“When your back is against the wall they choose to make inappropriate decisions,” Wilson said.

But with offenders starting young, Wilson said it's imperative that the community steps in to create change.

“We can provide therapeutic services through job placement, through workforce development, and then we can counteract a lot of these inappropriate behaviors we see displayed by these young people in the community,” Wilson said.

Police tailor their response to crime based on patterns, so they say they need residents to report any crime they see no matter how small or insignificant they think it may be. 

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