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Franklin County judge hopeful after police, parents of teens behind car thefts meet to discuss solutions

The meeting was held with judges, police, prosecutors and family members on Thursday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Franklin County judge was one of about 100 people on Thursday who attended a meeting to discuss ways to end the epidemic of teenagers stealing Hyundais and Kias across central Ohio.

Franklin County Administrative Judge George Leach, the head juvenile court judge, described the meeting as "a room full of care," with parents, police and other community members who want to curb teen thefts.

CrimeTracker 10 has been reporting on the "Kia Boys" since the beginning of the year. The group targets Kias and Hyundais because of how easy it is to steal certain models.

According to the Columbus Division of Police, there have been 6,290 cars reported stolen in the city between Jan. 1, 2022, and Sept. 7, 2022. Of those, 2,716 were Hyundais or Kias.

Leach said the parents who attended the meeting wanted more information about the legal process and how many want to know why their kids aren't being held at a detention center.

“A good portion of the Kia mothers who were there, they want us to hold their kid for a period so we can get a hold of the situation,” Leach said.

Leach said in the 90-minute meeting parents and judges were faced with tough questions. One parent said they don't trust the judges. Leach said that's something he will work on.

The judge said he walked out of the room with a feeling of hope.

"I had a good feeling that we started something that can grow and make a difference," Leach said.

While Leach called the meeting a success, the work isn't complete because "there was so much more there."

Parents who were at the meeting also called the meeting productive. The NAACP said there will be another meeting at a later date.

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