Illinois boy, 13, gets 7-year sentence for stealing 5 cars

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URBANA, Ill. (AP) – A 13-year-old central Illinois boy who admitted stealing five vehicles earlier this year has been sentenced to seven years in juvenile prison after a judge rejected his pleas for another chance.

The Rantoul teen sobbed Wednesday as a Champaign County judge sentenced him for the vehicle thefts, which occurred in Champaign and Urbana between June and October, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported. The boy had begged the judge for another chance to remain free.

State’s Attorney Julia Rietz told the court that after the first vehicle theft, the boy had been given a chance at a diversion program that would have kept him out of the juvenile justice system, but he was arrested again.

The teen pleaded guilty to an August vehicle theft and was on home detention with an ankle monitor awaiting sentencing when he was arrested again the day before his sentencing hearing.

After he was charged with two September vehicle thefts, he pleaded guilty to those and was again released on home detention with an ankle monitor pending sentencing. Rietz said the teen then committed the fifth vehicle burglary in October.

“This is extraordinarily frustrating because we started out with (the boy) to give him the opportunity to move forward positively,” she said.

Assistant Public Defender Matt Ham had asked for probation for the teen in the thefts.

But Champaign County Judge Roger Webber called the boy a “serious danger to the public and property of others and to himself.”

“I know you are sorry, but there are consequences to your decisions,” Webber told the boy.

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