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Old 01-18-2007, 12:35 PM   #1
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WTF? 9-year-old car thief escapes to Texas!

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9-year-old runaway leads police on high-speed chase, sneaks on flight to Texas


LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) - A nine-year-old boy with a history of stealing cars and running away sneaked onto a plane bound for Texas, getting caught after flubbing an airport connection, officials said.

Semaj Booker apparently found a Southwest Airlines boarding card and made it through airport security Monday, hopping two separate flights but landing in San Antonio, Texas - short of his Dallas destination, police said.

"The only thing I have to offer on that is that we're looking into it," Southwest spokeswoman Beth
Harbin said.

The fourth-grader remained Wednesday in juvenile custody in San Antonio. He had been trying to get to his grandfather in Dallas, where he used to live.

Southwest Airlines' boarding policy, which invites people to board in groups instead of by assigned seats, may have aided Semaj, Lakewood police Lt. David Guttu said. He said he didn't know whether the boy had a ticket.

Airline employees stopped Semaj from boarding another flight from San Antonio to Dallas when he couldn't explain why he didn't have a boarding pass, said David Hebert, spokesman for the San Antonio International Airport.

The boy was unhappy after his family moved to Lakewood, outside Tacoma. His odyssey began Sunday when he stole a car that was left running outside a neighbour's house, only to be spotted by police near the interchange of Interstate 5 and State Route 512.

Police pursued Semaj at speeds up to 150 km/h until he took an exit and the engine blew, after which the car went over a curb and coasted into a tree. He refused to come out of the car, so officers broke a window to unlock a door and immediately recognized him as a frequent runaway and car thief, Guttu said.
He was released to his mother, but he ran away again, authorities said.

Last month he also crashed a stolen car before being caught by police in Tacoma, and more recently he was caught in Seattle in a stolen car that had run out of gas, said his mother, Sakinah Booker.

She believes he learned to drive from playing video games on a PlayStation.

Booker said she had hoped to soon move her four sons back to Dallas, but Semaj grew tired of waiting.
Semaj was "incredibly motivated to get to Texas," Guttu said. "He doesn't want to live in Washington state."

Booker said her son dislikes the neighbourhood where the family lives and is afraid of a sex offender who lives nearby.

"He does not like it here at all," she said.
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Old 01-18-2007, 12:39 PM   #2
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That's scary on so many levels.
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Old 01-18-2007, 12:44 PM   #3
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Semaj was "incredibly motivated to get to Texas," Guttu said.
Might be the understatement of the year...although that, plus "he's afraid of the sex offender," kind of makes me wonder if she fully grasps how messed up the kid is...sounds like he's got compulsions that go way beyond being "motivated to get to Texas."
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Old 01-18-2007, 04:25 PM   #4
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
That's scary on so many levels.

Indeed. Especially the thought of a 9-year-old smart enough to evade security to sneak onto a plane.
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Old 01-18-2007, 05:39 PM   #5
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when I was nine I was collecting Beanie Babies and listening to Discotheque, not stealing cars and sneaking on planes

kids these days
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Old 01-18-2007, 05:45 PM   #6
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Originally posted by AtomicBono
kids these days
There were always kids like this, even back in the "good old days." The difference today is that these isolated incidents get full media attention, whereas, in the past, isolated stories like this would never have been seen as "significant" enough for media attention.
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:58 PM   #7
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This is scary. How did a nine-year-old get on two flights? I don't get it.
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Old 01-19-2007, 05:59 AM   #8
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Originally posted by verte76
This is scary. How did a nine-year-old get on two flights? I don't get it.
Unless you are traveling internationally, if you are under 18 (I think it is 18) you do not need an ID to travel.
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Old 01-22-2007, 05:53 AM   #9
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He learnt how to drive using a playstation, that should silence anybody who says u can't learn anything from video games.
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