Teenage carjackers likely thought they had it made after forcing a woman in her 50s out of her parked vehicle in Palo Alto, California, and stealing her property Monday evening.
Problem was they couldn't start the car — after which the hard-luck kids from Oakland ran off and soon were arrested.
What are the details?
Investigators said the victim was sitting in her car near Fleming’s restaurant in the Stanford Shopping Center around 6 p.m. when male teens allegedly demanded the vehicle and her possessions, KTVU-TV reported.
A male entered her passenger door and demanded her purse and keys, KPIX-TV reported, after which a second suspect opened the driver’s side door and demanded her purse. After the victim gave up her belongings, police told KPIX she fled unharmed on foot — and two other suspects jumped into her vehicle as well.
"Forced her out of the car. She fled. Was able to flag down a witness. That witness lent her a cell phone, and she called 911," Palo Alto acting police Lt. Brian Philip told KTVU.
However, the suspects — a 14-year-old and three 16-year-olds — couldn't start the car, KTVU said, and they all ran off, after which a police sergeant saw them at the city’s transit hub and made the arrest.
The teens were charged with carjacking, robbery, and conspiracy, KTVU reported, adding that they're all being held at the Santa Clara County juvenile detention center.
KPIX said officers found the victim’s stolen property on one of the suspects.
Police advised motorists to be aware of their surroundings and lock their doors immediately after entering their vehicles, KTVU said.
Prof weighs in on 'root' of issue
"Many of these kids do not see themselves [as] ever having enough money to get a license, purchase a car, pay for insurance, pay for gas, but they still want to feel what it's like to be behind the wheel," Prof. William Carbone, a juvenile justice expert at the University of New Haven, told KTVU. "And I think that’s what at the root of this current issue."
KTVU also pointed out the larger crime wave in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere around the country, specifically organized retail theft.
California state legislators and retailers are pushing for AB2390 to become law, because it would strengthen the ability of district attorneys to press charges for retail theft, the station said.