Millbrook police recovered a stolen vehicle in the possession of two juvenile suspects after it was involved in a collision at the intersection of Highway 143 South and Cobbs Ford Road on March 4.

The 2017 Hyundai Veloster was reported stolen on Feb. 26, according to the Montgomery Police Department.

On March 5, the Montgomery Police Department notified Millbrook detectives the Hyundai had been located and was occupied by two juveniles, ages 13 and 14. The driver was taken into custody by the Montgomery Police Department and was charged with first-degree receiving stolen property. The 13-year-old was taken into custody by Millbrook detectives and was charged with first-degree theft and first-degree receiving stolen property. Both will be adjudicated in the Elmore County Juvenile Court, according to Millbrook police chief P.K. Johnson, who said the area is facing an “epidemic” of armed juveniles committing violent crimes.

“While I am pleased that we were able to work with the Montgomery Police Department to recover the victim’s stolen vehicle and that our investigators have been able to make arrests in this case, I am sickened to learn that the offenders in this case are juveniles,” Johnson said in a release. “Young men 13 and 14 years old have no business engaging in dangerous criminal activity. They should be in school, playing sports and engaging in activities that young people do to become productive citizens in the future.”

Johnson said the juveniles appear to be part of a group involved in numerous vehicle break-ins and thefts in the River Region.

“While some of these offenders are adults, the overwhelming majority of these offenders are juveniles,” he said. “Even more disturbing is that many juveniles that we and other agencies have apprehended over the past several months have been armed with firearms. We believe this is due to the fact that far too many people are leaving firearms unsecured in their vehicles and they are being stolen.”

Millbrook police responded to the 3700 block of Henderson Place shortly before 6 p.m. on March 4 after the complainant reported the Veloster was occupied by several black male subjects and was last seen traveling southbound on Main Street, Johnson said. The complainant tried to follow the stolen vehicle but stopped following when one of the offenders pointed what appeared to be a firearm out of the window, according to Johnson.

Officers attempting to locate the stolen vehicle came upon a collision involving multiple vehicles at the intersection of Highway 143 South and Cobbs Ford Road. Witnesses said a vehicle traveling south toward Montgomery ran the traffic light just prior to the collision, Johnson said. Officers attempted to catch up to the vehicle but lost sight of it prior to reaching the southbound lanes of Interstate 65, according to Johnson.

While assisting the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency in working the traffic collision at Highway 143 and Cobbs Ford Road, officers determined one of the vehicles involved in the collision was stolen in Montgomery, Johnson said.

“According to our investigators, a total of five young men occupied a 2017 Honda CR-V which had been reported stolen in Montgomery on Feb. 26,” Johnson said. “They were parked in the 3700 block of Henderson Place when they observed the driver of the 2017 Hyundai exit the vehicle which was left with the engine running. Several of the subjects exited the Honda and took possession of the Hyundai, fleeing the area in both stolen vehicles. A relative attempted to follow the stolen vehicles and alert law enforcement. They discontinued when one of the offenders pointed what they believed to be a firearm out the window.

“Apparently both stolen vehicles attempted to run the traffic light while traveling southbound on Highway 143. The Hyundai made it through the intersection. The Honda did not, causing a traffic collision involving four vehicles.”

One victim was transported to Jackson Hospital by private vehicle with what appeared to be minor injuries, Johnson said.

Millbrook investigators have identified the other three suspects in the case, according to Johnson.

“Charges are pending and additional arrests will be made,” he said. “These individuals and their associates are known to have committed numerous thefts and breaking and entering of vehicles throughout the River Region and beyond.”

Johnson said changes are needed in the juvenile justice system to stop young people from getting deeper into a life of crime.

“We are facing what appears to be an epidemic with the increase in juvenile offenders committing these violent and dangerous crimes,” Johnson said. “There needs to be a serious effort to make changes in our juvenile justice system to make it easier to incarcerate and correct these violent and chronic juvenile offenders while there is still an opportunity to do so. There must be serious repercussions for these offenders or they will continue to commit these crimes. I spoke to a 13-year-old child that had absolutely no remorse for taking other’s property and endangering countless lives with his reckless behavior. As a career law enforcement officer this both scares and saddens me greatly.”