Police will be more aggressively enforcing Lafayette’s curfew for minors this summer after noting an increase in car burglaries in the weeks since school dismissed, interim Lafayette Police Chief Reginald Thomas said Wednesday.
“A lot of the times, when we look at cameras in the area, it appears to be kids,” Thomas said.
He said the thieves often target unlocked cars in the early morning hours and pilfer anything that’s left inside, including firearms that may have been left in a vehicle.
“That’s one of the major concerns we have. Once these juveniles get guns, it changes the story,” Thomas said.
Lafayette’s curfew ordinance prohibits minors 16 and younger from being out in public, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, past 11 p.m. on weeknights and past midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
The curfew is lifted at 6 a.m. but includes some exemptions, including for teenagers emancipated from their parents.
Minors traveling to or from work or running an errand for a parent or guardian — without making any stops along the way — also are exempt, as are minors out because of an emergency.
The ordinance also provides an exemption for minors exercising their First Amendment rights to freely exercise their religion, speak and assemble.
Thomas said officers will target the more suspicious instances of a juvenile out past curfew.
“We’re looking for kids on a bicycle at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Thomas said.
First-time violators and their guardians are issued a written warning. Second offenses carry greater weight and could lead to fines between $50 and $500 for the guardian, up to 90 days in corrections custody for the minor and up to 30 hours of community service for both of them.
Thomas said he’ll discuss the city’s curfew law with the community at a community pep rally scheduled for Monday evening at Gethsemane Church of God in Christ on Pinhook Road.
It will be the first event organized by the Lafayette Police Department’s Community Relations Committee.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.