RPD: Teen who stole car from RCSD employee also stole car with children inside earlier this month

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A 16-year-old is behind bars, charged with threatening a city school employee with a machete and stealing her car.

Police say this same teen stole a car two weeks ago with young children inside.

There have been 239 cars stolen just this month – and the thieves are often children themselves.

The Rochester City School District employee was leaving School 54 on Otis Street around 4:45 p.m. Thursday when a young man, armed with a machete, approached. She told police he demanded she get out of the car.

“So I don’t know how far advanced they were there or if this was a crime of opportunity, but certainly these kids are out there at times, like these kids were out there that night looking for a victim,” Lt. Greg Bello said.

News10NBC’s Deanna Dewberry asked Adam Urbanski, head of the Rochester Teachers Union, if he’s afraid for employees.

“Yeah. Because the pattern that I have observed over the years is that we get really, really serious about the problem only after a tragedy occurs,” Urbanski said.

Forunately, a tragedy didn’t occur here. Police on patrol quickly spotted the stolen car and chased it.

Officers caught five juveniles, but then an astute officer recognized one of the would-be thieves as the same teenager he’d spotted in security video two weeks ago. In that case, the thief took off in a running car parked in front of a corner store on Lake Avenue.

But there were two kids in the back. The thief abandoned the car and the kids minutes later.

“One of the juveniles that we arrested last night is the same juvenile who had stolen that car from lake avenue a few weeks ago,” Bello said.

And therein lies the problem: a rash of juveniles. Many repeat offenders stealing cars all over the county.

“‘Cause unfortunately that’s what we’re dealing with: groups of teenagers that are out there committing crimes specifically around cars,” Bello said.

And according to Urbanski, six of those cars were stolen right from the parking lots of RCSD schools this year. But that doesn’t begin to speak to the number of times school employees have been victims of crimes.

“There’s a number of additional incidents, of car break-ins or confrontations against teachers or other staff,” Urbanski said.

On this, Urbanski and Bello agree: Fixing the problem will take a collaboration between the parents, teachers, officers, and community members. That’s in the long-term.

In the short-term, Urbanski says teachers and students must feel safe and he appreciates the fact that security has been increased at School 54 and all schools across the district.

He also says all the parking lots in all the schools must have adequate lighting and security cameras.

That’s an issue Superintendent Dr. Carmine Peluso has already taken to the school board.

Related to the carjacking outside School 54, two 16-year-old boys have been charged with robbery, grand larceny, and forcibly stealing a vehicle.

The 16-year-old suspected of stealing the car with the children inside is facing additional charges of unlawful imprisonment, grand larceny, and endangering the welfare of a child. He was taken to the Monroe County Children’s Center.

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