Neighbors Blame Increase In Petty Crime On Teenagers

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Mike Brandel is sleeping a little lighter these days. A rash of late-night robberies in his Groesbeck neighborhood has him on edge.

"I'm hoping I'll hear something," he says.

He didn't hear anything the first time, when someone broke into his car and stole his two cell phones. Days later, it happened again.

"This time, they hit 12 houses up and down fairview," Brandel says. "They hit my wife's truck, hit my car, they went rummaging through our stuff.... they downloaded $50 in ringtones [on my phone]."

Neighbors say it's teenagers doing this, stealing cell phones and money to make a quick buck. One neighbor even caught a teenage boy going from car to car and called the cops.

Now that school's about to be out for summer, they're worrying more of this criminal behavior may plague their community.

"The neighborhoods are concerned with kids getting out of school, vandalism, petty crimes in cars," says Lansing Councilwoman Carol Wood. "People are alerted to those issues, and they say they're seeing more of these things now."

As the weather gets warmer, people are tempted to leave their garages open. But police say that's the biggest open invitation for petty thieves.

"The best thing we can recommend is lock things up," says Lt. Bruce Ferguson of the LPD. "Don't make yourself a target. Keep your car locked and garage closed."

"My biggest fear is if these kids don't get caught, they'll graduate into breaking into garages, then breaking garage doors and coming into our houses," Brandel says.

Lansing police say they'll be patroling vigilantly this summer, but that neighbors need to be equally vigilant in catching petty thieves-- teenage or otherwise.

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