PALM BAY, Fla. – An 8-year-old girl who police said was spotted on a surveillance video breaking into a car with another juvenile was arrested on felony charges and will face a juvenile judge later next month.
The child, whose name is not being released by News 6 because of her age, was charged with burglary to an unoccupied conveyance and attempted theft. She was identified on the video by Palm Bay police investigating the May 8 vehicle break-in in the 300 block of Pasto Circle, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
"It's very disconcerting," the victim of the burglary, John Badillo, told News 6 on Tuesday. "An 8-year-old girl, that's not common at all."
Police said the officer had little discretion in making the arrest because of the underlying felony involved with the car burglary, said Palm Bay police Lt. Mike Bandish.
"It is a felony. There has to be a charge. Also, my understanding is that she was not placed in a lock-up situation," Bandish said. "Normally, you see kids start this kind of activity when they’re older, maybe 14 or 15 years old."
The video showed three juveniles approaching the vehicle. The youngest girl – the one later charged – was seen on the video opening the driver’s side door.
"They had a flashlight and were rummaging through the car," Bandish said.
Another girl who was walking with the pair ran away from the car, police reported.
A police officer went to Jupiter Elementary, where the 8-year-old is a student, and questioned her about the burglary. The officer also showed the child the video, prompting the girl to name a 13-year-old boy and another girl, no age given, who were with her, police said.
The older girl did not actively try to break into the vehicles and tried to convince the younger child to stop, officials said.
The boy, who is also not being named because of his age, was charged with burglary of a conveyance.
Officers investigating the case later went to the child’s home, located less than 1 mile from where the burglary took place, to talk with her mother. The mother confirmed that the young child in the video was her daughter, police said.
Police then arrested the 8-year-old, who was ordered to appear in juvenile court June 2 for a hearing on the case.
"She just needs a little more parenting, a little more reasoning," Badillo said.
The children's mother told News 6 Tuesday the incident "was just an accident."