Teens in stolen-car crash have long history with police
Madison and Fitchburg police say three teens involved in the crash of a stolen car into a home last week had a combined 29 earlier arrests in the cities for crimes including operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and burglary.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t clear yet how much it will cost to repair the nearly finished new home the teens drove into with a stolen Subaru Forester, leaving two passengers with serious injuries and a formerly homeless woman with two children wondering how long before they can move in.
“Back in my day when you stole something ... your parents made you go back and face the person,” said the home’s future owner, DeSean Henderson, 50, adding that if the home had been occupied, someone could have been killed.
“This is a different generation,” she said.
The crash Saturday night in the Allied Drive neighborhood on Madison’s Southwest Side came about a month after Madison Police Chief Mike Koval lambasted Dane County’s juvenile court system in a blog post for the system’s supposed lenient treatment of alleged car thieves and other juveniles arrested for serious crimes.
This week, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said that in 2017 and 2018 a 14-year-old male passenger involved in the Saturday crash “has been arrested by (the Madison Police Department) 15 times in the past for offenses to include operating a motor vehicle without (the) owner’s consent, burglary and entry into a locked car.”
Over the past six months, the female passenger, who is either 14 or 15, has been arrested six times, “five for operating a motor vehicle without (the) owner’s consent and one for retail theft,” DeSpain said.
The 16-year-old driver of the car “has been arrested by MPD three times, two for trespass, and one for a curfew violation,” he said.
Fitchburg Police Lt. Ryan Michels said the three had been arrested five previous times in Fitchburg. In a statement Saturday, the department said the passengers “have both been arrested multiple times in the past for their involvement with stolen cars.”
Michels said tentative charges against the driver in the Saturday crash are operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, eluding police and two counts of recklessly endangering safety and resisting, while the passengers are tentatively charged with operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent as passengers.
Juvenile court records and proceedings are closed to the public, so it’s not clear what, if any, court-imposed restrictions the three were under at the time of the crash.
Construction of the three-bedroom ranch in the 2400 block of Dunns Marsh Terrace began in the summer, according to Linette Rhodes, Madison’s interim community development grants supervisor.
Including the cost of the land, the home was budgeted to cost $275,000 and is part of a city Community Development Authority neighborhood revitalization effort in the Allied Drive neighborhood, she said.
Henderson, who is disabled and has 9- and 14-year-old sons, is using local and federal government help to buy the home. Closing had been scheduled for early January, Rhodes said, but she didn’t have an estimate this week for how much repairs to the home could cost. She said workers will have to cut away and remove some of the foundation, and is hoping they can have it done for a closing later in January.
“The city is working very closely with the developer to meet the deadlines to get this first-time home-buyer into her house,” she said.
Henderson said she came to Madison about four years ago after fleeing domestic violence in Chicago. She had hoped to be in the home by Christmas but is now hopeful she’ll to be able to remain in her apartment in the same area until the home is repaired. She said she began working in June with Movin’ Out, a Madison-based housing nonprofit, to buy the home.
She said that on the night of the crash, she got a call around 11:30 and went down to the crash scene to see flashing lights everywhere and “this car in the living room and dining room” with its engine pushed up into the hood.
“I’m still in the clouds with my feelings,” she said.