MINNEAPOLIS — The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced a collaboration with local law enforcement in an effort to combat youth auto theft.
Auto thefts in Minneapolis have, after a social media video exposed a flaw in Kia and Hyundai cars that allowed thieves to quickly break in. Officials say a large number of cars are stolen by young people.
The collaboration with law enforcement has three parts, including meetings in which agencies will come together to identify youth in need of intervention. Social workers will also be in contact with families to connect them with needed services. Families that accept services will be connected to the county’s Family Response and Stabilization Services, along with school-based and community resources, the HCAO says.
The interventions, the HCAO says, are designed to address underlying issues that contribute to crime. The office says the intervention “is not about bringing more youth into the legal system,” but argues that if the issues are not addressed, youth are at risk of escalating behavior that could lead to legal consequences in the future.
“We cannot ignore early warning signs that a child is headed down the wrong path,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said. “Youth stealing cars and driving dangerously puts lives at risk and is unacceptable.”
Additionally, the HCAO will also make charging decisions on auto-theft related cases more quickly, starting tentatively on June 26. If a young person is admitted to the juvenile detention center on an auto-theft related arrest but is released, the HCAO will have to make a charging decision within one day.
The HCAO will also make charging decisions within five days for young people who are arrested, but not admitted to the juvenile detention center on a car theft incident.
In May,her office was working to address youth crime, as police were seeing some of the same kids riding or driving stolen cars over and over again. She argued for the use of more group homes as a method of intervention, and tested it in front of the legislature asking for more culturally appropriate group homes.
Moriarty also added she was working with the US Attorney’s Office to model a youth violence intervention program around Andrew Lugar’s group violence intervention model.
Community activist Nekima Levy Armstrong held a press conference separately Wednesday with parents and nonprofit leaders, echoing the need for more community programs and state-funded resources for kids.
“We feel like there could be a bridge, we didn’t know the county attorney was working on anything with this issue,” Levy Armstrong said.
Myon Burrell is a justice advocate.
“I believe that these carjackings are being caused by a lack of resources for our kids,” Burrell said.
And that’s the shared hope – that more parental support will mean fewer thefts and greater futures.