Frustrated and fed up: Community urges Monroe County Legislature to address teens and car thefts

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — They’re frustrated and fed up. People spoke out at Tuesday night’s Monroe County Legislature meeting about crime and car thefts.

They want local lawmakers to do something about teens and crimes in our community. It’s an ongoing issue that doesn’t appear to have an end in sight.

“Just this afternoon at 2:17 p.m. an older person outside of my home and across the street from East High School got hit by a group of these kids that stole a car, sped out and smacked him into a curb unconscious,” one person said, addressing the Legislature during a public forum.

Many people say something needs to be done sooner rather than later. They believe we will see more people hurt unless action is taken to stop these crimes.

“The car thefts — we release these kids out on an appearance ticket,” one speaker said as he addressed the Legislature.

The community wants something done. They want the chaos with teens stealing cars to stop. Many took their cries to their county representatives. Some were upset county legislators are giving themselves raises at a time when other people are struggling due to the increase in car thefts. (The Legislature voted to include the raises in the 2024 county budget proposal.)

“I don’t think you guys should and you don’t deserve a raise until you come up with a comprehensive plan of how we are going to save our county and our city,” said Clay Harris, founder and president of United and Healing Through Hope of Monroe County. He is an advocate for stopping the violence and was at Tuesday night’s meeting appealing to the Legislature.

“The same way they are going to have a bipartisan vote to give themselves a raise, they should come up with a bipartisan vote to try to start saving lives, it’s a very serious issue,” Harris said.

Marcus C. Williams, a member of ROC Unite, an anti-violence group in Rochester, has been a victim of car theft and other crimes.

“It’s out of control! People are just stealing cars left and right. They are not being punished or held accountable. Me, myself when they broke and vandalized my car, I was just heartbroken. Aside from being heartbroken my pocket was hurt too,” he said.

Many would like legislators to hold state lawmakers accountable and push them to amend the bail reform and Raise the Age laws. (New York’s Raise the Age law raised the age one can be prosecuted as an adult to 18.)