Montgomery County’s police chief said he doesn’t know the root cause of the rise in juvenile crime, but he believes social media and video games play a role.
There have been 845 juvenile arrests or referrals in the county so far this year. According to police data, kids have been involved in 141 car thefts through mid-September – much of it related to the Kia-Hyundai social media challenge.
“Talking to young people about things such as video games, these things such as driving around in stolen cars or carjacked vehicles – this is not a game,” Chief Marcus Jones said.
He said parents and mentors need to be more involved.
“There’s a problem in our society when a 14-year-old is out at 11 at night stealing cars or carjacking cars,” he said.
County data also show juvenile violent crime has increased 95% since 2019. Robberies jumped 108%. Carjackings surged 36% from 2021 to 2022.
At a Montgomery County Council Public Safety Committee meeting on juvenile crime earlier this week, State’s Attorney John McCarthy said the juvenile justice system is broken and not enough programs and resources are available for kids.
“People care about all forms of crime, but whether you’re talking about carjacking, whether you’re talking about motor vehicle theft, whether you’re talking about guns in our community, those things are off the charts,” he said.
The county also has been plagued with school bomb threats.
A 15-year-old was charged with making one fake bomb threat last week. But a 12-year-old who allegedly made several bomb threats was not charged due to his age.
Jones said many times, the kids involved just don’t get it. “Parents are, again, alarmed,” he said. “They’re fearful.”