Trio of teens burglarize Indy vape shop, illustrating trend among city youth

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Three teens were caught on camera as they burglarized a vape shop they aren't even old enough to buy from.

It's just the latest in a growing number of juvenile burglary cases.

“I know what my kids are doing, and it’s not this,” said TJ Birdwell, the owner of the recently burglarized shop Vapor Vice.

Police reports said the trio of teens range from 12 to 15 years old. They broke in twice during the same night and made off with an estimated $6,300 worth of merchandise.

“A lot of these are kids that shouldn’t even be anywhere near any vape shop, or tobacco shop," Birdwell said of their age range. “With the vape equipment, I think the kids think there is a market value on the streets for this stuff."

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was able to track them down with the help of clear surveillance video from Birdwell's shop. All three teens now face burglary charges.

The incident comes after 24 people were arrested in a rash of cell phone robberies in the city. IMPD said some of them range in age anywhere from 14 to 20 years old. IMPD said a few years ago, adults were paying kids $1,000 to rob pharmacies.

"Why? Because a punishment for juvenile crime is not that great. Our goal, as it should be, is to stop their criminal behavior before they are an adult," IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey said. "$1,000 to a kid could mean new shoes, clothes, or feeding their families."

“What's going to happen to a 12- or 13-year-old that breaks into some place? Not much,” Birdwell remarked.

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