Tuesday, July 17, 2012
A small Kansas town is facing big city crime. Valley Center police arrested several young people for what is being called "car hopping." Despite those arrests, there are dozens of kid criminals out there still prowling the streets.
Valley Center police say since March, car hoppers have burglarized at least 120 cars. Staci Tretbar's vehicles have been hit three times.
"We woke up in the morning and saw the vehicles had been broken into," said Tretbar. "Glove boxes open... papers and stuff lying everywhere... change taken out of it."
It's Detective Jay Grayson's mission to stop these young criminals, whose ages range from 12 to 18. He says car hopping is a growing trend in the community.
"They call it car hopping and that's the big thing. The last three years, it's been getting bigger and bigger," said Grayson. "They sneak out of the house from about 1 o'clock in the morning to about 4 o'clock in the morning and they go and check doors."
The car hoppers travel together in groups of two or three and spread throughout the dark, quiet streets of Valley Center, looking for cars that have been left unlocked. They steal everything from electronics to change. Some have even stolen guns.
"This group of kids is not responsible enough to be having guns. That scares me," said Grayson.
Grayson says while Valley Center is a small town, people need to hide their valuables and keep their vehicles locked. He says that even though police have made several arrests, there are still more criminals out there. Police advise that if you have anything stolen from your vehicle, no matter how small, report it to authorities right away.