Scott County Sheriff, Tim Lane, attended the Riverdale City Council Meeting on August 28, 2018 and provided an overview of the size and scope of the juvenile crime problem that reached into the City last August 11th, when several cars were broken into and one car was stolen from in front of a residence on Manor Drive. Sheriff Lane offered a sobering assessment that caught many of those present off guard – both citizens and City officials.

According to Sheriff Lane, the juvenile crime problem in Scott County is growing dramatically. So far in 2018 (through the first three and a half weeks of August), over 600 cars have been reported stolen compared to around 800 cars stolen in all of 2017 and 517 in 2016. But that wasn’t the end of the bad news.

“The problem is getting worse,” Sheriff Lane said. “These juveniles are extremely violent.”

The county’s chief law enforcement officer told the Council that he’s seen surveillance footage of these youths pulling guns and entering homes they knew (or at least thought they knew) were occupied.

So, just how do these young criminals get their weapons? “The guns are taken from the cars they steal, left there by their owners,” Sheriff Lane explained.

There are an estimated 100 kids involved in this local crime spree. And as the Sheriff explained, many of them view breaking into and stealing cars as a kind of competition – often taking pride in running the stolen vehicles into each other, into parked cars or into innocent people.

Sheriff Lane also explained that there is not a “preferred time” for these crimes to occur. Police departments and the Sheriff’s office have reports of vehicles being broken into and stolen at all hours of the day. As the young assailants get more and more bold and gain access to weapons, Sheriff Lane expressed his concern that car thefts could eventually turn into car-jackings.

“People have to be careful,” he explained, “especially as cold weather sets in … Don’t leave your car running outside to warm up. Don’t leave your car unlocked. And even when you’re filling up with gas at the pump, don’t leave your keys in the car.”

What can be done?

Council members asked the Sheriff what can be done to make Riverdale residents safer in light of the ever-increasing rate of car thefts and the possible for more violent behavior from these juveniles – ranging in age from 9 years to 18 years of age. He offered the following tips:

  1. Spread the word about what’s happening and the simple prevention steps that you can take to keep you from being an “easy target” of this kind of crime;
  2. Buy and install a home security system – even if that system is as simple as having a noisy dog, a little prevention goes a long way.
  3. Watch out for each other – a neighborhood watch program can be very effective at protecting your home as well as your neighbors’.

A complete summary of Sheriff Lane’s presentation to the Riverdale City Council (prepared by Council Member Paul DCamp) can be viewed here.

We also encourage you to participate in the City’s Crime Prevention Task Force which held its first meeting on Friday, August 31st at 3pm.

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