Juveniles: Doing The Crime Not The Time

Monday, May 11th 2009, 9:37 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Young criminals are getting away with a slap on the wrist.  Teenagers commit more than half of all the home break-ins in Tulsa.  What happens to them when they're caught makes both victims and police mad.

A burglar was about to break Clint Ryan's window when a neighbor shouted and then chased the thief, while on the phone to 911 until police arrived.  The burglar was 15 years old and had already gone through a UPS box on Ryan's porch and had broken into his garage and stolen baseball memorabilia.

Ryan was relieved that his wife and three little boys weren't home when it happened at 11 o'clock in the morning.  He reassured the boys that the bad person was caught and wouldn't be coming back, but later that same night, he did.

The burglar dumped out Ryan's trash, squealed tires and taunted him and his neighbor.

"Whenever my neighbor looked out, he got out and looked right at him, how stupid are these people?" said Clint Ryan.

Clint Ryan was shocked the burglar, who'd been caught red-handed wasn't even kept overnight and mad the system did nothing.

"We deal with very angry victims all the time," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Brandon Watkins.

The head of TPD's Burglary Squad says dealing with juvenile burglars is the single most frustrating part of their job, because generally, nothing happens to the burglars and they not only know it, but they brag about it.

"We have some juvenile's birthdays marked on our calendars because we know eventually they'll turn 18 and we're going to get to be serious with them," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Brandon Watkins.

Sgt. Watkins says the juvenile bureau often doesn't have beds to take the burglars and, if there is room, often turn them away because they're accused of a property crime, rather than a crime against people.

Sgt. Watkins says they had an 11 year old, who admitted breaking into houses, while people were home, 20 to 30 of them, but as usual, they had to turn him over to his mother and while she was signing the paperwork, the kid took off down the street, to do whatever he pleased.

Police say the juvenile bureau is equally frustrated, but no one seems to have any answers.