Pinellas Teen Auto Theft 2019-08-21T21:13:13-04:00

Pinellas Teen Auto Theft

The Pinellas County teen auto theft epidemic continues 

Over the past five years there have been more juvenile auto theft arrests in Pinellas than any other county in the state – by far. Pinellas was the only Florida county with more than 1,500 arrests during the time period (1,524), with the next closest county not even hitting 1,200 (1,165).

In fact, 15% of Florida juvenile auto thefts during the five-year period of FY 2013-14 to 2017-18 were in Pinellas, a county that comprises less than 5% of the state’s population. During this time period, Pinellas has averaged nearly six juvenile auto thefts per week (5.9) compared to the next highest county at 4.5 per week.

  • Last year, even with a 35% decrease in juvenile auto theft arrests, Pinellas:
  • Had six times more arrests than the nation and three times more than Florida per 100,000 youth.
  • Ranked second in the state.
  • Had four of the state’s top 20 zip codes for teen auto thefts – 33712, 33705, and 33711 in St. Petersburg, and 33755 in Clearwater.
  • Averaged four juvenile auto thefts per week.

At times, Pinellas also has led the nation in number of juvenile auto theft arrests – outpacing larger counties like Los Angeles, California.

Solutions-driven study

The Caruthers Institute has conducted a solutions-driven study that combines national best practices with local knowledge gained from law enforcement, community leaders, and Pinellas youth who’ve been involved in thefts. The short-term goal is to reduce the number of teen auto thefts, while the long-term goal is to address root causes. The study includes recommendations for solutions and immediate next steps.   The study will be released in September 2019.Study-related news coverage


City of St. Petersburg (via city council)
Clark Family Fund
Pinellas Community Foundation
United Way Suncoast

News Coverage

Is teen auto theft still out of control in St. Petersburg? Depends who you ask.  (August 19 2019)  Tampa Bay Times

The Caruthers Institute led a research study on the issue of juvenile auto thefts and presented some of the findings to the city (August 15 2019) by Emerald Morrow  Channel 10 WTSP

Editorial: Smart ideas for reducing teen car thefts in Pinellas (March 27 2018) Tampa Bay Times

Researcher says Pinellas’ car theft crisis is fixable, but still more dangerous than most realize (March 26 2018) by Zachary T. Sampson Tampa Bay Times 

Editorial: Experts can help reverse deadly trend of teen car thefts in Pinellas (November 28 2017) Tampa Bay Times

National study to focus on juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas (November 27 2017) By Lisa Gartner and Zachary T. Sampson Tampa Bay Times