Killeen: Petty crimes could lead to major problems for teens

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) Early one Sunday morning, someone who looks like a teen checks the window of the Royal Star Mart in Killeen, then uses a rock to try to bring it crashing down.

Someone checks out a store window before trying to throw a rock through it.

"He did it only once because the alarm was so loud," says Baaba Coleman-Selby.

The young man took off running in the surveillance video, but since then, Killeen police haven't filed charges which is a major problem for Selby.

"My husband said they told him since they weren't successful in breaking in, they can't do anything," she says.

"So you want to wait for the person to actually destroy the property?"

She says if he's not caught, he'll just try it again, but she's not the only one worried about repeat offenders.

From purse-snatchers to car burglars, complaints of teens gone wild seem to be growing in the area.

"Kids love to push the envelope- what can I get away with?" says Texas A&M Central Texas Chief of Police Charles Rodriguez.

He says kids can often start with petty thefts like stealing candy then eventually clothes, and on to more serious crimes like robbery.

"If that situation isn't taken care of immediately, it's going to escalate," says Rodriguez.

According to Frontpoint Security, in the U.S. 21 percent of all suspects arrested for robbery in 2017 were under the age of 18.

Back in Killeen, it doesn't stop at theft. Teens have been named as suspects in 22 shootings since 2014.

The offenders may be young, but some adults aren't hesitating to press charges.

"They need to know that it's not a good path for them to start on," adds Selby. "We can do so much better."

Officers say even punishment like community service can be effective if a lesson is learned that will prevent more victims and save kids from trying something worse.

Killeen Police say they are working to assign the Royal Star Mart case to a detective.

The teen in the video could face criminal mischief charges.