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Chief of police says auto thefts are low, but seeing a trend of new faces stealing cars

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Chief Anthony Holloway is speaking out after two crashes involving stolen vehicles occurred in less than 48 hours in the city of St. Petersburg.

Tuesday morning, a St. Pete police officer was hit by four people in a stolen car.

Monday morning, 26-year-old Phelexis Robinson was killed by the driver, speeding in a stolen car.

Despite the tragedies, the Chief said the number of auto thefts are down this year and they check on teens already in the system, but now they’re seeing new faces.

“We’re starting to see different kids steal cars and again when we interview these kids, they tell us it’s opportunity,” said Chief Holloway.

Teens and auto thefts has been a hot button issue in Pinellas county over the last several years.

In 2017, three teens died in a fiery crash in Palm Harbor after stealing a car.

The year before that, three teenage girls drowned after crashing into a pond in a stolen vehicle.

Attorneys with the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association have been working with repeat youth offenders to try and make a difference with a new initiative called JOBS.

“Some of them gained employment. If they stuck with it, they’re aware of some of the resources that are in the community that are there to help for them,” said community service director, Antoine Daniels.

President Shaquana Harper said there is hope for these teens.

“We’re not giving up on them. We don’t them to give up on themselves and as long as they’re in this community, they’re going to be important to us,” said Harper.

Police said charges are pending for the people following Tuesday’s crash.

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