Q: Can you give some background on the latest initiative between your office and the sheriff’s offices in your circuit (including St. Johns County) to address car break-ins by juveniles?
A: Car break-ins or “car clicks” by juveniles have become a major problem in our area and the incidence of kids breaking in and stealing guns and money has been increasing. We are trying to get ahead of this situation.

Basically, what has been happening is that kids are targeting cars in our area because it is heavily populated and upper middle class. Some kids are local and sometimes they come from out of the area, often in stolen vehicles. By car clicking, they check the handles of cars to see if they are unlocked. They go from car to car and they are very fast and efficient. They often wear hats or clothing to disguise their features. They take guns and money that they find in the cars.

We are seeing very young kids, such as 13 and 14 year olds, doing this. Their mentality is often that the juvenile justice system will be lenient and that not much will happen to them if they are caught since they are under 18. They are then using the guns they steal and sometimes selling them on social media sites. 

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Q: What is the plan you have in place with the sheriff’s offices?
A: The four sheriffs and I agree that this has become a real problem and public safety issue and we need to take action. We are concentrating on three points:
1. In trying to find a way to deter the behavior, the best way is to aggressively prosecute these cases. Often, we are charging these juveniles as adults, if they are stealing and using guns.

2. We want to continue to build community awareness to this problem. It’s important for community members to minimize availability. Keep your cars locked and don’t leave guns in your cars.

3. We are working with schools and other community organizations to get the word out to kids about the seriousness of these crimes. If you steal and / or use a gun, the consequences will be severe.

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