LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas police officers are warning residents to be aware of their surroundings as carjackings and vehicle thefts increase at an alarming rate in the valley.
What concerns officers the most? Many of the crimes are being done by teenagers.
Some of the carjackings and vehicle thefts reported to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department over the last several weeks include a car broken into in the middle of the night, and in a separate case, a man assaulted before his car is stolen.
“That’s not good for our valley,” said LVMPD Captain Fred Haas.
Capt. Haas says there have been 17 carjackings around the valley this year, up 30% from 2020.
He also says half of them involved teenagers as young as 14 years old, calling it unacceptable.
“One thing we have to do as a community is to get around these kids," he said.
"They’re not in school," he continued. "They’ve got a lot of free time and Metro is working with intervention officers to get out there and make contact with these kids before they go down a road of violence."
Community activist Robert Strawder works closely with at-risk youth. He says he's disheartened to hear the news.
“Most of the time the kids don’t know because they think it’s fun or they’re listening to someone older. They don’t know the recourse to that,” said Strawder.
Strawder says many families are struggling during the pandemic, which could lead some teenagers to steal cars.
He says having more youth programs, like STEM programs, to guide them away from a life of crime is key and encourages others to support them.
“[Programs] to better themselves and get ready for society," Strawder explained.
"Millennials and Generation Z, this is their time and we need them. They’re our future,” he added.
Capt. Haas says LVMPD officers are trying to do just that by providing families and teens access to necessary services.
“We’ve got to break that cycle of crime with these individuals and these young men and women of society to give them the help and support they need,” said Haas.
The police department is also telling people to not sit in their cars for a long time, like while looking at your phone.
They urge citizens to start the car and go.
Other helpful tips from police: Be aware of your surrounding, don’t leave valuable items or firearms in your car and make sure your car doors are all locked.