Juvenile robberies have been trending up since last year, but recently police have been noticing a specific tactic - young adults recruiting kids to rob people at knife point and commit car theft.
Proving it the commissioner says, was as easy as pulling over a stolen vehicle.
"Our police officer stopped two cars. One was a stolen car and one was a carjacked car. Those cars had been recently carjacked and stolen," Baltimore police commissioner Kevin Davis said. "Inside those two cars were a 25-year-old, a 20-year-old, a 17-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 15-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old. What in the world is a 12-year-old doing hanging out with a 25- or a 20-year-old?"
Police believe they're working.
Wednesday police arrested 20-year-old Shabazz Covell-Tucker on Berry Street in Hampden. He was behind the wheel of a stolen car with two underage passengers.
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Near that car was a stolen 1997 Lexus driven by a 15-year-old, in it were two more juveniles ages 12 and 13.
Officers witnessed them testing door handles of other cars on Keswick and Berry streets. It's not a brand new M-O, but a frustrating one for police.
"I'm a 25-year-old. I am not gonna steal that car,” Davis said, “But if I am gonna get my hands on a 13-year-old or a 12-year-old who will go up and commit that strong arm carjacking...I know that the criminal justice system is barely gonna touch that kid...barely."
It was a theory also at work in Federal Hill police say.
Again Wednesday, police arrested a 14-, 15- and 16-year-old after they carjacked a Jeep Cherokee on West Lee Street in Otterbein.
The SUV was recovered in West Baltimore, but detectives think the three juveniles were part of the group that has been racking up other armed robberies in Federal Hill and possibly car thefts in Locust Point for nearly month now. Crimes that are by far entry level, but mere children police believe being used to shield older criminals.
"These 18-, 19-, 20-year-old become their guidance. They become their makeshift parent so to speak and so they begin to listen to them but the problem is they are guiding them down the wrong path," said Baltimore Police Chief of Patrol Osborne Robinson
In the three cases, a total of four juveniles and one adult have been charged. That could change as police continue to investigate the possibility that at least some of these suspects committed other armed robberies and car thefts in the city.