Riverside Police chief: Criminal history of 17-year-old motorbike thief validates earlier carjacking legislation
Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said that a juvenile arrested recently for stealing a motorbike is why carjacking legislation introduced earlier this year in Springfield was no “overreach” as some have claimed.
"This juvenile's criminal history already included a 2015 armed robbery, numerous gambling arrests, a manufactured delivery of heroin case, armed robbery of two people and hijacking of a vehicle,” Weitzel said in a statement issued by the Riverside Police Department. “Taking into consideration he's only 17, he's amassed quite a criminal history.”
At 11:24 a.m. July 16, a Riverside police officer observed an individual riding a moped-type bike in the parking lanes on Harlem Avenue adjacent to the Burlington Northern Railroad grade crossing at 3400 S. Harlem, the department statement said. When the officer conducted a traffic stop on the motorbike, which had no registration, the juvenile initially attempted to run, but was quickly arrested by the Riverside officer and taken into custody.
The officers later learned that the teen, a Chicago resident, had an active no bond felony warrant for aggravated vehicle hijacking with a firearm and armed robbery. In 2016, he was one of four individuals arrested after an attempted carjacking of two senior citizens in the 700 block of North Grove Avenue in Oak Park. The four were armed with a .44 caliber Rugger revolver, an 8-inch barrel 9-millimeter Rugger semiautomatic handgun, with a 20-round extended magazine, the department said. They approached a vehicle parked in the 700 block of North Grove, and demanded money from a 71-year-old male and a 66- year-old female. They robbed the couple, stole their car and fled the scene.
“Proposed legislation to have juveniles appear in front of a bond judge to see if they should be released or not, and not relying on a point system, is targeted exactly at this type of juvenile offender,” Weitzel said.
Carjacking legislation approved on the last day of the spring legislative session in Springfield gave law enforcement a portion of what they wanted in a bid to toughen the law covering juvenile offenders. The legislation would allow police to presume that a car driven without the owner’s permission, or knowledge, is stolen, permitting them to charge anyone in the car with being in possession of stolen goods. Under a loophole in the current law, police must prove that the occupants knew the car was stolen before charging them.
Chicago and west suburban police have seen an alarming rise in the number of carjackings in the past few years. Figures compiled by Chicago Police show that the city had approximately 1,000 carjackings in 2017, the highest amount in a decade. That total was up from 682 in 2016, more than double the numbers from 2015 and 2014.