ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Police say the number of car thefts are down while the number of programs for kids at risk of getting into trouble is at an all-time high in St. Petersburg. The department says their new community policing programs are why the two are related.
Things got so bad last year St. Pete Police started a new program and it seems to be working.
During the summer months -- when thefts usually spike -- car thefts went down by 17% compared to last year.
September saw the lowest amount, with only 56 thefts, compared to 127 in august of 2016.
Officers credit a daily monitoring program for juvenile offenders...where officers visit their house almost every day.
But police say an increase in after school programs geared towards 'at-risk' youth is also helping.
Carlos Daniels runs several after school programs in South St. Pete and says keeping at-risk teens busy, is half the battle.
“If they are bored, they're going to go out and get into trouble," Daniels said.
Daniels says some of the teens in his programs have later returned, as adults to say thank you.
St. Pete Police awareness campaigns warning people to lock their car doors have also helped the car theft rate go down.