Teens Say: Video Game Made Them Do It

N.Y. teens charged with robbery claim they were swayed by "Grand Theft Auto."

February 11, 2009, 9:34 PM

June 27, 2008— -- Six Long Island, N.Y., teens were arrested on charges of robbery early Thursday morning after emulating the notorious characters of the video game "Grand Theft Auto," police said.

Nassau County officers received a 911 call late Wednesday night from a woman claiming she'd been robbed by teens, Sgt. James Bartkowski told ABC News. She told responding officers that a group of about 12 to 15 young men armed with crowbars, sticks and metal bars surrounded her car and stole her money before she managed to drive away, Bartkowski said.

As police arrived on the scene early Thursday morning, the teens were allegedly in the midst of another attempted robbery, police said. The teens had tried to stop a passing van by similarly surrounding the vehicle, hitting it with their sticks and weapons, Bartkowski said. The driver got out and grabbed one would-be robber while Sgt. William Grimes, the first officer on the scene, detained another. The rest of the group ran away, but ultimately six teens were arrested at 1:45 a.m. Thursday.

Bartkowski said the boys claimed to be "emulating the character and scenes" from the popular video game "Grand Theft Auto."

Jaspreet Singh, 17, Samuel Philip, 16, and Stephen Attard, 18, all attended New Hyde Park Memorial High School together in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Dylan Laird, 17, from Massachusetts, was in town visiting a friend, and the final two charged were 14- and 15-year-old juveniles.

Take2 Interactive — the umbrella company for Rockstar games, the creator of "Grand Theft Auto" — released a statement today saying, "Events such as these are troubling to all concerned citizens. It would be wrong, however, to link unfortunate incidents like these with any kind of entertainment products. Individuals who commit crimes need to be held accountable for their actions."The ongoing investigation has so far revealed a previous robbery in a different precinct in which the same group "jumped a guy, stole his money and knocked his teeth out," Bartkowski said. After the robbery, the group broke into a nearby shed and armed itself with the weapons used in the later attacks, he said.

Despite their young ages, the teens have each been charged as adults with robbery in the first degree. They have all pleaded not guilty and are being held on $150,000 cash bail that as of this morning had not been posted.

Police suspect there could be even more victims in what they are calling a "spree of violence, mischief and damage."

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