Local News

Mar 23, 2010 10:03 PM by Ariel Wesler

Armed robberies raise concerns about juvenile crime in Lompoc

Police in Lompoc arrested two young people this morning in connection with two armed robberies overnight.

Officers say the first robbery happened at 11:30 Monday night in the 500 block of West Barton Avenue. The second took place just an hour later in an alley near the 300 block of West Ocean Avenue. Investigators believe a third boy is involved with the crimes.

Two teenage arrests in Lompoc connected with two armed robberies are raising questions about juvenile crime in the city.

The first happened late Monday night on the street near Veronica Floyd's house. She has lived in the community for 14 years and generally feels pretty safe.

"Most of the time, yeah. I mean, I have to keep my eye out," Floyd said.

The second robbery occured in an alleyway behind the 300 block of West Ocean. In both cases, the suspects pulled out a gun and stole cell phones.

Both incidents happened less than a week after Lompoc held a community forum, looking at ways to cut down on youth violence.

In one incident, the victim was pistol whipped and knocked to the ground.

"I believe what we're seeing is an increase in the severity of the crime, more vicious, more violent," said Kim Densmore, a Juvenile Probation Manager for Santa Barbara County.

Although these two incidents are not gang related, Police say juvenile crime isn't far off. Juvenile probation officers say the problems start at home. Kids growing up often don't get the positive attention they need.

"Kids then tend to gravitate to somebody, anybody who will think I'm important, or something that I do, I do well," Densmore said.

And when their not at home, even the details like clothing and music can send the wrong message and put teens in danger. Densmore has a warning for parents.

"Learn what that baseball cap means. It not only means a gang affiliation, but that gang affiliation is also affiliated with the prison gangs," she said.

Last year, Lompoc police arrested nearly 500 juvenile and adult gang members.

They believe budget cuts to the county's truancy program, designed to make sure kids are in school, are contributing to a rise in daytime juvenile crime.

Lompoc police say they've also noticed veteran gangs starting to recruit younger gang members.

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