In light of recent criminal escapades by juveniles, sheriff warns: don’t leave your car unlocked, and don’t leave anything valuable – particularly a gun – inside
They may not be ready to join the ranks of “the Fast and the Furious.” But a group of area teenagers still pulled off some high jinx worthy of Vin Diesel after local sheriff’s deputies caught them tooling around Burlington in a stolen pickup on Monday.
This real-life action sequence began shortly before 5:00 a.m. when sheriff’s deputies noticed two vehicles near Tillman Street in Burlington that had previously been stolen from a neighborhood off of Burch Bridge Road.
According to the office of Alamance County’s sheriff, the deputies attempted to pull over one of the vehicles – a 2011 Chevy Silverado – whose driver reportedly gunned the accelerator when the deputies flashed their blue lights.
The sheriff’s deputies initially tried to end the pursuit by using the nose of a patrol car to nudge the stolen pickup into a ditch. Although this so-called PIT maneuver managed to halt the pickup – at least for a moment – it didn’t prevent the vehicle’s two passengers from bailing on the temporarily immobilized driver.
According to the sheriff’s office, a deputy gave chase to one of the passengers and ultimately caught up with the quarry. The suspect nevertheless put up a struggle, during which the deputy’s sidearm reportedly fired a single shot – albeit without any injuries. The suspect apparently slipped free in the ensuing confusion – only to be taken into custody shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, the driver of the stolen Silverado managed to escape the ditch where he was trapped and rammed his way through the cordon of patrol cars that had surrounded the vehicle. The driver then peeled off toward NC 62, although he reportedly made it less than a mile before he got into a collision with another deputy’s car and was taken into custody.
The two cars from the sheriff’s office sustained considerable damage, according to Curtis Morris, a major within the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office has declined to release the names of the two suspects that its deputies ultimately apprehended because both of these individuals are under 18 and, as such, are considered juvenile offenders.
The sheriff’s office nevertheless suspects that these teens are part of a group of offenders who broke into several unlocked vehicles that night – and who ultimately stole the Silverado as well as another vehicle from a location in Elon.
“By all means, if you have anything of value in your car, especially a gun, take it in your house. And lock your car.” – sheriff Terry Johnson
Indeed, sheriff Terry Johnson reiterated what he said should be standard precautions. “By all means,” the sheriff said, “if you have anything of value in your car, especially a gun, take it in your house. And,” he added, “lock your car.”
The sheriff also warned that in this day and time, no one should leave keys in their unlocked cars. One of the stolen vehicles apparently had the keys in it when the juveniles found it and started their evening of crime, according to the sheriff’s office.
D.A. to focus on juvenile offenders committing serious crimes
The sheriff’s office also believes that these two juveniles may be prime candidates for a program that the local D.A.’s office recently launched in order to deal with repeat offenders that it has designated as “community threat offenders.”
According to Alamance County’s district attorney Sean Boone, this new initiative focuses on 64 individuals that local law enforcement has identified as community threats because of their “chronic” record of violent offenses, their leadership roles in recognized “street” gangs, or their “emerging” pattern of criminality. This last criterion applies specifically to individuals up to 25 years old who have exhibited escalating criminal behavior.
According to the district attorney, this new program will enable his office to deal more effectively with the small number of juvenile violators who are responsible for an overwhelming share of the cases on the criminal court docket.
“The strategy introduced recently is designed to bring focus and clarity to these prosecutions by permanently assigning each community threat offender to one of our assistant district attorneys,” Boone goes on to explain in a statement he issued last Tuesday. “As long as they continue to commit crimes…we will prioritize their cases for indictment, trial, probation hearings, and all other criminal matters.”