Teen arrested for high speed chase in stolen car should face tougher consequences, owner says

The owner of a truck that was stolen and used during a high-speed pursuit told Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson she’s frustrated the teen suspect didn’t face tougher consequences.

Chelsie Strangman said it’s been nearly two months since a 16-year-old allegedly stole her pickup truck from her home in Gainesville and she had to pay for the repairs and the fallout.

A few days after she reported it stolen in September, Duluth Police chased the teenager driving through Duluth and onto I-285. The chase ended with a foot chase where police realized their suspect was just 16 years old.

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“He could have killed someone,” said Strangman.

The single mother said it cost her thousands to eventually get her truck back after it spent weeks in the body shop and she dealt with insurance for repairs and rental car costs.

“I had to come out of pocket a significant amount of money to be able to have insurance, pay for my vehicle, and then get the vehicle back,” she said.

So when she says the teen appeared in front of a judge and avoided jail time because of his age, it left her frustrated.

“The justice system is saying, ‘It’s okay that you committed a felony,’” she said. ‘We’re just gonna give you a little slap on the wrist and hope you do better.’”

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Juvenile criminal records are not typically made public.

She hopes his arrest in her case is his last but worries the probation he received may send the wrong message.

“Some time in behind bars will do some good,” she said. “Maybe you won’t ruin your whole life being 16 or 17 years old.”

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