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Cops 'Know' Who Stole $1M in Cars. But Try Arresting Them

North Carolina authorities are eyeing a group of 19 juveniles in car thefts
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – North Carolina detectives say they know who's behind car thefts worth over $1 million—but arresting them is another thing, the Charlotte Observer reports. Police are eyeing 19 young people in the thefts of 46 cars from dealerships in and around Winston-Salem starting in March, but the kids, aged 9 to 16, are walking away. "Detectives have sought, and thus far have been denied, secure custody orders from the Forsyth County Department of Juvenile Justice for the involved juveniles," the police say in a statement. Police didn't explain, but North Carolina public-safety officials have said they're trying to lower the number of young people in detention amid the pandemic and rely on electronic monitoring.

Police nabbed the one adult suspect, 19-year-old Mekeal Binns, and charged him with violating probation, resisting arrest, and possession of a stolen vehicle; he's behind bars on a $20,000 bond, per CNN. But as it stands, the police are reduced to helping local dealerships protect themselves from future thieves. Seems the cars were taken on joyrides by juveniles bored with self-isolation, and 40 of the 46 vehicles have been recovered. Police say a few of the kids started it: "Their success in the early stages certainly exacerbated the problem," a police captain tells the Journal. "These other kids saw them with a new car, and they shared how they acquired it." The Drive calls it "Peter Pan meets Grand Theft Auto." (Read more car theft stories.)

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