Three teenagers who Baltimore Police said attacked and robbed at least three people in Upper Fells Point in recent weeks were arrested as a result of footage from home cameras.
Police said two boys, ages 13 and 15, and a 14-year-old girl were arrested Sunday on South Broadway, after a robbery the same day and two others, one Friday and another Nov. 12.
In the Sunday incident, police said a man who was walking in the 2000 block of Gough St. around 2:15 p.m. reported he had been assaulted by three people, including one who had a gun. The victim was able to flee before the suspects robbed him.
Arch McKown, the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association safety chair who has helped organize an informal network of home cameras, said the robberies were captured by residents within the network. Footage of Sunday’s incident shows an older man carrying bags, running from three young people who follow the victim. One of the young men is carrying what appears to be a gun.
When police arrived, the victim didn’t give a clear description so officers called McKown, asking if he knew any residents with a camera in the area. McKown said he looked on his Google spreadsheet and called up a resident who was able to provide the footage and send it to the officers. The patrol officers canvassed the neighborhood until they located the teenagers in the 400 block of Broadway, and were able to take the three of them into custody.
“There have been a number of those exact incidents," said McKown, adding that police often reach out to him to help locate videos of incidents.
Police took all three teenagers to the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. They are charged as juveniles with carjacking, robbery and assault, police said.
Police said the suspects also were responsible for a robbery Friday, when a 35-year-old woman reported a similar attack nearby in the 300 block of S. Chester St. around 3 p.m.
On Nov. 12, police said a 67-year-old woman reported three people assaulted and robbed her while she was walking in the 2000 block of Bank St. around 1:30 p.m.
After the arrest, McKown said he heard from other residents who told him they feel much safer knowing there’s now a way to handle such incidents.
The arrests come as the number of carjackings has spiked in Baltimore, with more than 500 reported so far this year, an increase of more than 20% compared with this time last year.
Overall property crime is down 7% and overall violent crime is down 1%, but the city continues to see increased levels of shootings. More than 700 people have been injured in shootings and an additional 300 killed, which is up compared with last year.
Several mayoral candidates seized on the teen arrests, complaining about the city’s overall approach to violent crime, which likely will be a top issue for candidates.
“These images of violent attacks are terrifying and have become an everyday occurrence in Baltimore City,” said Thiru Vignarajah, a former deputy attorney general who is running for mayor, and who has released a crime plan.
T.J. Smith, a former Baltimore Police spokesman and mayoral candidate, also bemoaned the violence.
“Physically assaulting someone, in broad daylight, robbing them and taking their vehicle is not juvenile mischief, it is violent behavior," Smith wrote on Twitter. “The focus must remain on the victims of crime while collectively working through juvenile services reform.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott called for more efficient investments in technology in a statement in which he touted 15 license plate readers for the department.
“In neighborhoods across the city, I hear concern about an increase in carjackings and other violent crimes,” Scott said. “We have to remain vigilant in the fight to keep all of our communities safe and use our resources in the smartest and most effective way possible.”
Baltimore City FOP #3, the union which represents rank-and-file officers, criticized Commissioner Michael Harrison’s efforts to reduce crime.
“The carjackings, robberies and shootings continued unabated,” the union said in a statement, adding, "the current administration has not changed the crime fight except to rename ‘hot spots’ to ‘micro-zones’ and ‘talking to people on your post’ to ‘community engagement.’”
The union continued, “We continue to lose more police than we hire, Patrol Officers in the neighborhoods are hundreds of men/women short, and the overtime savings being touted by the PC (Police Commissioner) means even less officers on the street, less cases solved, and more crimes committed.”
Commissioner Harrison wrote in a statement that he is “laser focused on making the BPD a world class police department.”
“I stand side by side with the brave men and women who go to work every day trying to make Baltimore the city we all want it to be,” he wrote. “And I am seeing results — like the arrests this weekend of three young people responsible for a string of robberies, the guns that are seized on a regular basis and the drug dealers who are put behind bars.”