Teen crimes reported almost every day in Ector County

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ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – According to the Ector County Youth Center, teen crimes including theft, trespassing, and criminal mischief are reported almost every day in Ector County. 

This is something Laurie Rushing of Odessa has experienced first-hand. She moved out of her home two years ago after a fire. While her home has been vacant, she says teens have come in through the alley, lit fires in her backyard, broke windows, and dumped her belongings in the pool.

“They’ve stolen everything that they could, they’ve trashed the pool, just made a disaster of everything,” said Rushing.

She lives near Odessa High School, and is not the only victim in this neighborhood. 

Lucas Pengelly recently bought a home in the area and before even moving in, has caught teenagers breaking into his home, destroying his doorbell, and going through moving boxes.

“Unfortunately we are kind of in the same boat as a lot of other families, especially other families that surround OHS,” said Pengelly.

This is not an isolated issue, teen crimes are seen all over the Basin.

“We see them almost every single day. We get referrals from all the agencies in our area of theft, criminal trespass, and criminal mischief, those are often,” said Maria Sosa the assistant director of juvenile probation at the Ector County Youth Center

Sosa says while these are minors committing crimes, there are still repercussions. 

“There are consequences to your actions. Whether you’re placed on a formal probation or not, it still goes on your juvenile record. Although that can be sealed later on, we can still use that against you if you were to come back on a new offense.”

Sosa says they do try to intervene early on with kids that commit these crimes to avoid probation.

Probation is when a teen goes before the judge and is placed on a certain number of rules that they have to abide by. If they do not follow these rules they can be picked up on a violation of probation and they will be detained in the Ector County Youth Center facility pending future consequences. 

If their risk and needs are high and the offense fits certain criteria, they will place the minors on a form of probation. Sosa attributes the high number of teen crimes to social media. 

“I think that has a lot to do with everything with our kids.  A lot of times these kids are following social media or any type of challenge that’s out there and they’re breaking into things just to post  it. So that is something that we are seeing a lot of.”

Teresa Moore, the executive director of the Midland Teen Court agrees that social media plays a big role in criminal behavior amongst teens.

“When you have a lot of free time and you spend a lot of time online and on social media you’re going to pick up those influences,“ said Moore.

Moore says it’s common to see kids with less adult supervision commit these crimes. She says while many parents are forced to be away for work, it’s important for all parents to have open conversations with their kids about the dangers of social media. 

“I think the more we can talk to kids about what could really happen if you get yourself into these situations, I think the less likely they will be to behave this way.”

If you have been a victim of any sort of teen crime you are encouraged to report it to the police. 

“They definitely need to continue reporting it to law enforcement and that law enforcement agency will refer a new offense towards us and we will count that to or against the juvenile in that case,” said Sosa. 

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