Attempted burglary lands an 11-year-old Tulsa boy in custody

Friday, August 27th 2004, 5:42 am
By: News On 6

An early Friday morning break-in that Tulsa Police blame on an 11 year old boy. It might be surprising to some, but Tulsa Police and prosecutors say it's not to them.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says it was an almost childish attempt to break into a well secured building. Police responded to an alarm at Cash America Pawn Shop at the Bellaire Shopping Center near 49th and Peoria - and saw a little boy with a hammer running away.

At around 1:45 AM, the alarm company heard banging on the door, but the child didn't even break the glass. It's not the first time the businesses in the shopping center have had trouble with children - about a month ago, even younger kids broke out another window. Those children lived near the shopping center - and were just throwing rocks - so they were not arrested.

As for the attempted break-in early Friday morning, the 11 year old suspect, faces charges of burglary and being out after curfew.

Turns out the boy was already on probation for burglary - and had outstanding warrants for misdemeanor crimes. That's why he was taken into custody at the juvenile detention center.

In the complex of courtrooms, 1,600 criminal cases are filed against children each year. Tulsa County prosecutor Michelle Keely says an 11 year old burglar is no surprise. Keely says last year’s 10 year old with a gun was unusual, but otherwise - underage criminals are just like adults - it's a small group of repeat offenders. “The children aren't here for punishment, it's to rehab them and keep them, out of the adult system.”

In almost all cases of property crimes like vandalism - children are not taken into custody. There's not nearly enough room to hold all of them. Most go back to their parents and all graduate out of the juvenile system when they reach 18.