By Judd Weil
Dodge City police officers were dispatched to the 400 block of East Plaza Ave at 2:49 a.m. on Feb. 6 in response to an aggravated burglary and battery that had occurred.
When the officers arrived, the suspects, five juveniles ranging from ages 13 to 15, had already fled the scene.
Through the investigation DCPD learned that four juvenile males and one juvenile female entered the victim’s home without consent and stole items from the residence while the homeowner slept.
The homeowner awoke and in confronting one of the males, was attacked but fortunately managed to get away after a struggle with the assailant.
DCPD was able to identify and locate all five suspects, who upon arrest, were sent to Southwest Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Garden City, where they awaited formal charging.
“All five juveniles have been charged with a primary count of aggravated burglary, level four person felonies,” said Ford County Attorney Kevin B. Salzman in an email. “Adults convicted of a level four person felony could be sentenced between 38 and 172 months’ imprisonment in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections and up to $300,000 in fines.
“However, because each of these individuals is a juvenile, if they are found guilty, they would be subject to the sentencing provisions of the Revised Kansas Juvenile Justice Code, which provides for penalties up to and including detention in a juvenile detention facility.”
In addition to aggravated burglary, the juveniles have been charged with theft and battery charges, filed with the Ford County Attorney’s Office.
Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis expressed hope that people and families pay attention to both DCPD press releases as well as their own vulnerabilities to mitigate criminal actions among adolescents in the future.
He added that should also include paying attention to what kids are doing, who they are hanging out with and what they are being taught about morality, personal responsibility and respect for others.
“No one wants to have a heavy handed police state. No one wants to see kids entering into the justice system and their lives being impacted negatively as a result,” said Francis in an email. “So, someone has to raise them with morals and self-discipline that prevents this then, or the police and the justice system are all you have left.”