Pittsburgh police made five arrests Wednesday in connection with a string of carjackings on the east side targeting senior citizens — and the alleged mastermind behind the crimes is just 14 years old.
On Tuesday, law enforcement responded to a report that three male teens had assaulted and physically removed a 66-year-old man from his blue Subaru Forester on Reynolds Street. Officers asked construction workers in the area to give them a heads up if they noticed a car matching the description.
Within a few hours, a construction worker flagged down a few officers on patrol in Homewood, telling them a blue Forester had just driven by. Relying on the tip, police tracked down the vehicle and five juveniles fled as police caught up to it. Cops apprehended all five suspects — four males and one female — ranging in age from 12 to 15.
Police identified a 14-year-old male as the suspect driving the Forester. Authorities charged the teen in connection with two carjackings — one from a 75-year-old man and another from a 70-year-old female — on Monday.
"We do believe at least one of the people in the car yesterday, the one we arrested, the driver, the 14-year-old driver ... we have information that leads us to believe that he is involved in all three of these," Commander Jason Lando told KDKA-TV on Wednesday.
How did police identify the leader?
Police identified the alleged ring leader's connection to the crimes in part by his clothing. Surveillance video reportedly showed the teen wearing a particular shirt at the site where the female victim's vehicle had been stolen, and a private citizen took a photo of the youth wearing the same shirt the next day in Frick Park — just prior to when the Subaru was swiped. The shirt was found in the Forester by officers.
Public Information Officer for Public Safety Chris Togneri confirmed to TheBlaze via email on Thursday that all five suspects were in juvenile detention centers.