SPRINGFIELD -- A 12-year-old accused of stealing two school buses has struck again, this time attempting to flee the state in a truck stolen from a neighbor, police reported Thursday.
Authorities, however, are aiming to curb the juvenile’s criminal inclinations this time around.
Michael Wade Propst has been arrested and placed in juvenile detention twice in the past two months for stealing Bay District school buses. Propst was once again arrested and extradited from Jackson County to the Department of Juvenile Justice on Thursday morning on new charges of grand theft auto and damaging an electronic monitoring device, according to police reports.
Police said Propst caused hundreds of dollars in damage to his mother’s car while attempting to steal it before 11 p.m. Wednesday when the Springfield Police Department was alerted to a grand theft auto at a nearby address. After a failed attempt to crank his mother’s car, Propst fled; almost at the same time, a 1990 Chevrolet truck was stolen from one of the neighboring homes, police reported.
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Authorities began searching for Propst and had a lead he was headed to Dothan, Ala. Early Thursday morning, authorities found Propst and the stolen truck at a residence in Campbellton.
Apparently, the young Propst had cut off his electronic ankle monitor, which was part of his punishment for the previous grand theft autos, Springfield police said.
Propst now faces three felony charges for damaging the monitoring device, attempting to steal a vehicle and succeeding in stealing the other vehicle.
The State’s Attorney’s Office said Propst is very much on its radar but has no intention of waiving the 12-year-old into the adult legal system for a nonviolent offense. Instead, they will be recommending a punishment exceeding the maximum 21 days juveniles can serve in detention facilities, according to SAO spokesman David Angier.
“If he violated probation, there would be no way we would send a 12-year-old to adult prison,” Angier said. “We can recommend to the judge a placement of the youth in a residential program under supervision, where he would be monitored and given rehabilitation.”
If the judge agreed and he were found guilty, Propst could be placed under supervision for an indeterminate amount of time. The punishment could last months or even years -- depending on how quickly the juvenile meets criteria outlined by DJJ. They would then recommend his release to a judge, but the impetus ultimately would fall on Propst.
Propst allegedly stole a school bus from a Parker residence in late June before Wal-Mart employees at the Front Beach Drive location noticed it awkwardly maneuvering around the parking lot and called police. When Propst was released from detention three weeks later, he allegedly took a school bus at Parker Elementary School before being spotted in Franklin County, driving erratically.
DJJ would not discuss specifics of Propst’s cases or punishments for each incident. He is now in detention awaiting an appearance before a local judge.