Police charge 16-year-old alleged gang leader as an adult in four violent vehicle thefts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 16-year-old is being charged as an adult after police say they linked him to several vehicle thefts this past summer.

Police have linked Michael Smith, who they say was creating his own street gang, to four violent vehicle thefts over the span of five days in the summer.

He's now been charged with robbery, armed criminal action and tampering with a motor vehicle.

Michael Smith

Ashley Linder, a victim in one of those car thefts, said a group of young men assaulted and robbed her late one night in July.

"I had to stay late at work that day, so I got off kind of around midnight, went home and these two young guys just ran up and started yelling at me to get out of my car," she said.

Linder said when she didn't get out of the car fast enough, the men "physically took me out of the car and threw me on the ground."

Less than 24 hours later, police found the car abandoned and totaled about 5 miles away.

She is just one of several victims linked to Smith in charging documents. Those documents describe three similar attacks in the same area in the span of five days.

A second victim noticed four guys stealing his car while he was in a convenience store. He got hurt trying to pull them from his vehicle, he said. Police found his car abandoned two days later.

The same day they found the second victim's car, a third victim told police two men grabbed her hair and pulled her from her car as she sat parked near 39th Street and Jackson Avenue.

Again, police later found the car abandoned.

Then two days later, a taxi driver told police he had been robbed, too.

He told officers two men posed as passengers. When he parked at their destination, near 35th Street and Prospect Avenue, he told police they grabbed him as about eight other guys pulled him from the taxi and beat him up.\

Police found his car abandoned later that day.

The detective that worked with Linder said he thought it was likely a gang initiation. But Smith's family told Fox 4's Melissa Stern via phone Monday that Smith is innocent, has been turning his life around and is no way involved in any gang.

Court documents say otherwise.

Officers got a little help from the second victim. He used "Find my iPhone" to find his stolen phone, which showed police the address where it was located -- and police already knew the address as Smith's home.

Police got a search warrant and found the stolen phone, stolen ID, plus a fully automatic rifle with the serial number rubbed off.

During an interview, Smith told police he was the leader and creator of the "Shmitty Street Gang."

As of Monday night, Smith is being held on a $75,000 bond. His next court date is set for the end of the month.