The 9-year-old Grand Island boy who crashed a stolen car into a porch and spat on an officer Sunday is accused of stealing another vehicle Tuesday night, authorities said.
Grand Island Police Capt. Jim Duering said officers were worried about a repeat crime spree when they returned the boy to his home Sunday. According to Nebraska law, juvenile court has jurisdiction only over kids as young as 11 years old.
“We were hoping it wouldn’t happen again,” Duering said. “The chances of us having two 9-year-old suspects is zero percent.”
Duering said officials had tried to get social services to the boy and his family earlier this week. Now, with a second offense against the boy, many agencies are reaching out to offer help, he said.
Randy See, the director of Hall County Juvenile Services, provides diversion for juvenile first offenders who are accused of low-level crimes. But the Hall County Attorney’s Office refers kids to juvenile services, and See understood that a juvenile criminal case can’t be filed against youths younger than 11, because of the state statute.
An option may be for Child Protective Services or the Department of Health and Human Services to get involved, See said, speaking in generalities and not about the specific case.
“Are the needs of the child above the capabilities of the family to provide protection and safety?” See said. “If that’s the case, then they could look at alternative placement.”
The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to questions about what the agency would do in a situation with a too-young juvenile accused of serious crimes.
Duering said that the parents have been cooperative and that there were no red flags pointing to criminally negligent or liable behavior.
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On Tuesday about 9:30 p.m. a Grand Island officer saw a 1998 maroon Jeep Cherokee run a stop sign. The officer put on the cruiser lights and attempted to stop the Jeep, but it drove away. The officer did not engage in a pursuit, Duering said.
Officers set up a perimeter and called in a K-9 unit to track the Jeep, and it was found about 10 minutes later abandoned in an alley. The boy was found crouching near a silver pickup truck.
The owner of the Jeep had told police that it was last seen about two hours earlier outside Wave Pizza Co. The Jeep was unlocked with the keys inside, Duering said, same as the 2007 Honda Civic that the boy stole Sunday night.
“This is not a 9-year-old hot wire. He’s stealing cars with keys in them,” Duering said. He advised owners to lock their cars and take the keys with them. “If a 9-year-old can steal your vehicle, it’s a pretty easy target.”
It’s unclear exactly how long the boy had been driving the Jeep, but the attempted traffic stop occurred about 2 miles from the pizza restaurant where it was stolen.
On Sunday, the boy drove the Civic about 2 miles and crashed it into a front porch. The boy locked himself inside the car, and officers had to break a window. Then the boy, who is white, yelled racial slurs at a Hispanic officer and spat on the same officer, Duering said.
Duering said officers hope to find a solution with the help of other agencies.
“Luckily it’s an out-of-the-ordinary situation, but unfortunately it’s drug on with multiple victims with property and vehicles,” he said. “Something’s gotta be done to put a stop to the behavior.”