Bexar County sees a rise in teens with guns and stealing vehicles, data shows

Local leaders discussed the threat, crimes, and strategy against rise at town hall Tuesday afternoon

SAN ANTONIO – More teens are carrying guns, and the number of them involved in stealing vehicles is skyrocketing, according to the latest data by the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department.

At a community town hall held at St. Mary’s University Tuesday, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and 436th Juvenile District Court Judge William Cruz Shaw talked openly about tragic realities involving children they’re dealing with.

“Some of these kids have lived lives who would never understand,” said Shaw.

Judge Shaw gave attendees a firsthand recount of what it’s like being a teen who ends up in the juvenile court system, as he sees them in a courtroom daily.

“We expect them to handle situations like adults. But we have to keep in mind they’re still children,” said Shaw.

Shaw elaborated on the children’s history, including their troubled homes and families who reject them.

“It’s a very complicated issue. We’re not going to solve this thing overnight. We definitely have to stay involved,” Shaw said.

Data by the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department shows crime trends are shifting and the number of kids who are armed and stealing vehicles is on the rise.

From January to August of this year, the number of youth involved in auto burglaries and vehicle break-ins went from 59 in 2022 to 174 in 2023, according to the Bexar County data.

The number of teenagers caught with guns also went up from 16 last year to 29 this year.

Shaw went on to share how some children are even committing crimes to post online and share for likes.

“We’re also seeing kids taking guns to school and either having that gun at school or threatening to shoot the school,” said Shaw.

Community members like Debbie Leal Herrera showed up to find out how they can help.

“You need to be a parent that knows where your children are. Who are they hanging out with? What is in their social media?” she said.

As an educator, Herrera says stopping juvenile crime and finding interventions should matter to everyone.

“We’re all parents, or grandparents. And those in education as well. What can we do? This is a problem for the village,” said Herrera.

FULL VIDEO: Districts 7 & 8 public safety town hall discussing juvenile crime

San Antonio District 7 and District 8 City Council members are inviting residents to attend a community town hall on Tuesday to discuss juvenile crime.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.