Lafayette Square Neighborhood Dealing with Juvenile Crime - KMOV.com

Lafayette Square Neighborhood Dealing with Juvenile Crime

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St. Louis Police vehicle (Credit: KMOV) St. Louis Police vehicle (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Some residents and business owners in the Lafayette Square Neighborhood said they are dealing with an increase in crime and that young kids are responsible.

Many know Lafayette Square as sort of an island close to Downtown St. Louis.

Business owners told News 4 that crime is typically low in the area, but children are committing crimes like shoplifting or snatching purses. They tend to hangout in groups, some ages 8 through 12, others 13 to 16.

The area crime numbers in the area show a slight increase in larcenies. Last year, there were 37 cases from January to the month of May. This year, there’s been 40.

Mike Petetit whose lived and worked in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, said part of the problem is that the state of Missouri has a points system for juveniles.

Juvenile court authorities said if a child is caught committing a crime, he or she is assigned a certain point. That child can’t be detained by police or the courts until he or she gets to 10 points.

“For example, a larceny is three months, in order for a juvenile to be detained they have to have ten points so three committed crimes,” Petetit said.

He added the lack of immediate punishment is why the same kids continue to act out.

That’s why he’s working on implementing a Puppies for Juveniles program to help correct their behavior.

“We will take puppies that are stray rescue that need help, that need loving and put them with kids who are on that cusp, you can see they might go bad or they might go good but they need that extra little push to go on the right side and they will work with the dogs in the park -under adult and mentor supervision to help open them up,” he said.

Petetit said the juvenile courts recently informed him that they have found some money to help move the program forward.

“There has to be a line that you tell children you can’t step over, you can’t do that, it’s not right and that’s what we’re trying to do there’s consequences but at the same time, you’re trying to empower the kids and give them encouragement,” he said.

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