WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina have accused a group of teenagers and children as young as 9 of stealing more than $1.1 million in vehicles from car dealerships.
Investigators think 19 suspects ranging in age from 9 to 16 were responsible for taking nearly 50 cars from auto sellers in Winston-Salem and Kernersville during a monthlong string of break-ins, Winston-Salem police told news outlets.
Some of the children accused of involvement had stolen multiple cars before, The Winston-Salem Journal quoted Lt. Amy Gauldin as saying. Police alleged the suspects stole the keys of new cars or vehicles being serviced at the dealerships and took them on joy rides.
The Forsyth County Department of Juvenile Justice denied multiple requests from the department to detain the children, but the investigation remains ongoing, police said.
Detectives charged one adult, 19-year-old Mekeal Binns, with possession of a stolen motor vehicle in connection with the thefts, the department said. It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
All but six cars were recovered, according to officials.