A 16-year-old boy accused of breaking into a car and stealing a gun at an upscale subdivision allegedly committed a similar crime days later, and authorities blame the apparent recidivism on a lack of bed space at a regional juvenile detention facility.
Sheriff’s deputies last week responded to reports of a juvenile breaking into cars in the Rolling Oaks Drive neighborhood east of McComb, Bell said.
The 16-year-suspect old allegedly stole a handgun from a vehicle, but when deputies arrested him the next day the gun was nowhere to be found.
Officers released the youth into the custody of adult guardians, Bell said.
Days later, deputies responded to a report of an auto burglary at The Mallard restaurant at Lake Dixie Springs.
Surveillance cameras captured the suspect’s image and the tags on his getaway car, Bell said.
Deputies identified the suspect when they matched surveillance footage from the Rolling Oaks break-in with footage from the restaurant.
Deputies quickly identified and arrested him at a traffic stop and were surprised to find the it was the person they picked up in connection with the Rolling Oaks burglary.
Facing overcrowding at the facility in Adams County, deputies had to release the boy again into the custody of his guardians. The case is being handled in Pike County Youth Court. The youth’s name isn’t being released because of his age.
Law enforcement officials in Pike County mostly respond to reports of property crime, Bell said.
“A lot of that is carried out by juveniles,” he said.
Bell said that if the juvenile detention facility in Adams County does not have enough available room that a juvenile is unlikely to spend time behind bars. He said that juveniles know that the risk of receiving consequences is low, which empowers them.
“We need a juvenile detention center in Pike County,” Chief Investigator Chris Bell said.