By Dylan Deprey
Boredom can lead to many things.
Over the past few years Milwaukee teens have taken playing Grand Theft Auto the video game to pass the time to the next level by jumping behind the wheel themselves.
The adrenaline rush of a high-speed chase through side streets could make for a great action movie, but most likely end catastrophic with an unlicensed teen behind the wheel of a stolen car, otherwise known as a stollie.
A 15-year-old boy is now paralyzed and fully dependent on his family after crashing a stolen car he was driving.
A 16–year-old girl is set to spend the next thirteen years of her life in prison, after she stole a car and accidentally killed a pedestrian.
An 18-year-old will spend 41 years in prison for robbing a person and taking their car. The list goes on and on.
Bianca Williams, 25, has taken it upon herself to help spread awareness to her peers long before they end up in a hospital bed or prison cell with the Stop the Stollies Campaign.
The Stop the Stollies Campaign is a partnership between A Cry for Help Foundation and the Milwaukee Police Department to promote auto theft awareness through neighborhood events, Facebook posts, group meetings, one-on-one sessions and word of mouth throughout the community.
“I noticed a lot of teens in my age bracket committing crimes,” Williams said. “It’s not really been brought to awareness in our community, like a lot of people know teens are stealing cars but don’t know why.”
After a neighbor’s car was stolen two houses down, Williams decided to take it upon herself to speak to a group of teens from her neighborhood.
“They were saying things like ‘We’re bored, and we have nothing to do,’” Williams said. “You know they are bored and have friend who have done it, and it becomes a cycle.”
Though auto theft has dropped from the record breaking 7,376 in 2015 to 6,143 in 2016 according to the Milwaukee Police Department, Williams said teens need to constantly hear the repercussions that come with stealing cars from their peers and community.
“They’re only living for the right now. They’re not thinking about tomorrow or the consequences. No one is out there constantly telling them ‘You know you’re doing wrong,’” Williams said.
Williams added that she had been approved to put up four billboards in an effort to physically put awareness to teens and drivers in Milwaukee.
State Rep. Jason Fields met with Williams to hear about the campaign as it rolls out throughout early 2017.
“I think it’s a good initiative to make sure we address the issues that involve our youth and overall crime relating to cars,” Fields said. “Unlike what we have seen from years before, I’m glad somebody is helping the community come up with an initiative to actually address the issue versus just telling people about it.”
Stop the Stollies Campaign will partner with the Office of Violence Prevention and the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative on Jan. 28 to work with at risk youth, those that have stolen cars or were party-to- a-crime.
Williams said she wanted to collaborate with even more community organizations because teens were primarily risking their lives out of boredom.
“I believe if we have more places for teens to go, it will cut down on violent crimes,” Williams said.
For more information on the Stop the Stollies Campaign visit https://www.facebook.com/StoptheStollies/