Nineteen children aged nine to 16 broke into dealerships in North Carolina and stole a total 46 cars, according to the Charlotte Observer. Their escapades started March 17 as part of a Snapchat challenge, where the goal was to take as many pictures with stolen cars as you could.
Internet challenges on social media have been all the rage for quite some time.
We’ve seen the cinnamon challenge, the Tide pod challenge, the ice bucket challenge and a myriad others. Some of them are in good fun or for a cause, but most are pretty bad, especially this latest one.
None of the kids involved in the caper are even old enough to play Grand Theft Auto, but they were bold enough to try it in real life. The 46 vehicles stolen were worth a total US$1.1 million, and at least eight different brands were targeted, including Audi, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.
The Winston-Salem Police Department says the vehicles were taken on joyrides mostly out of the boredom of self-isolation. So far, 40 of the 46 stolen cars have been recovered.
Detectives have determined who the perpetrators are, but nowadays it’s not as easy as just showing up to their parents’ houses and dragging them to jail by their earlobe. Because the criminals are all minors, the police must get custody orders from the Forsyth Country Department of Juvenile Justice, where they would be held.
All such requests have been denied at this point because the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is “trying to decrease the number of youth in detention during the coronavirus pandemic by utilizing electronic monitoring instead.”
Only one arrest has been made so far, of a 19-year-old who was caught with possession of one of the stolen cars. “I am hoping that we get this investigation progressed to the point we can get this stopped,” say detectives.