WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Violent crimes amongst juveniles are on the rise in the Piedmont Triad area which is causing officials to look into proposing curfews to city council members.  

Officials said, in the last month violent crimes among teens have been spiking in numbers in both Forsyth and Guilford County.

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Forsyth County District Attorney, Jim O’Neill said his office has been seeing an uptick in car thefts being committed by juveniles.  

“The first crime starts with the theft of the automobile, but the punishment in juvenile court is so low that there really is no teeth to the punishment and it doesn’t really correct the situation,” said O’Neill. 

O’Neill said in the juvenile court system the lowest form of punishment is low-level Felonies. 

O’Neill said the spike in numbers of teenagers committing these crimes started back in December 2019, when “Raise the Age” went into effect, this meant teens 16 and 17-year-olds who commit crimes in North Carolina were no longer charged in the adult criminal justice system.   

“We have seen an increase in crimes committed by juveniles. Naturally when you add 16 to 17 years old in your going to see that, but unfortunately the crimes that we are seeing committed right now have led to more problems and bigger crimes,” said O’Neill. 

O’Neill said as teens continue to commit violent crimes, the best thing to do to reduce crime among the age group is to keep them off the street with a curfew. 

“Places that have instituted this and they have seen a reduction in their juvenile crimes, and I think we as a community now need to be proactive, we need to take some steps before the crimes are actually committed,” said O’Neill. 

O’Neill said community members need to write, call or go to their local city council members to ask about proposing a curfew ordinance. He said the malls have already implemented the ordinance for teens to prevent violence, so why can’t the city council for the people in the street? 

He said the proposed curfew could be from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. for people under the age of 16 unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult. O’Neill also said the city council could implement a trial run for 60-90 days to see if the crime rates drop in the age group, which would also take more off an already struggling police force. 

“Law enforcement numbers are not out there to be able to handle every situation that arises, so we need to do more as a community, and it starts with instituting a curfew,” said O’Neill.