Kids ‘car-hopping’ 2019-04-25T11:34:05-04:00

Kids Car-Hopping: A Snapshot

Analyzing 18 months of juvenile grand theft auto arrests (2016-2017), the Tampa Bay Times investigative reporting team found that the most chronic car thieves led the least stable lives. One example from a new partnership between the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department and the county mental health agency has a social worker taking a teen to court: “This was the whole reason [the social worker] was here, driving a 16-year-old boy he’d only met a few weeks ago to and from the courthouse: If he didn’t, no one else would. His parents weren’t in the picture. His grandmother didn’t own a car, declined to take the bus. The kid didn’t have cab money.”

SOURCE: Tampa Bay Times

“They blow red lights and fly through stop signs and speed the wrong way on skinny bridges, toward oncoming traffic. They push 100 miles per hour, ram police cruisers and nearly mow down children stepping off a school bus.  Kids here go ‘car-hopping,’ walking neighborhood streets and parking lots, testing door handles until they find an unlocked car with a key inside. The objective of this real-life game of Grand Theft Auto isn’t to sell the car or strip it for parts.  It’s to drive fast and show off. Nissans and Fords become dangerous toys in the hands of kids who don’t know how to turn on a car’s lights or put it in reverse. The thieves are as young as 10 and as light as 50 pounds, cranking the seat all the way up, just to see over the steering wheel.”