UPDATE: Largo police have charged 29-year-old John Jorgensen in this case. Jorgensen was located at a Clearwater hotel Thursday. He’s charged with attempted carjacking, police said.
PREVIOUS STORY: LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – An attempted Largo carjacking was caught on camera over the week. The driver’s 16-year-old sleeping daughter was inside the vehicle.
It happened at the 7-Eleven store at 5860 Roosevelt Boulevard Saturday around 12:25 a.m. The victim parked his 2008 Kia in front of the store and left it running – with his daughter inside.
The suspect, who is still on the loose, opened the driver’s door and got into the car, trying to get away. But he wasn’t even in the car for two seconds before the father ran out of the store and stopped him.
Only News Channel 8 spoke with the store clerk who watched it all happen from behind the register. “I went out the door with the phone to call Largo PD and the guy vanished,” Charlie Gruver said. “I mean, he was like a Houdini.”
Gruver recalled those frantic moments as he rewatched the surveillance video. “The dad was in the store,” he said. “He seen the guy get into the car and the father dropped the soda and went outside the door.”
The dad was in the store for about two minutes, Gruver said. “The guy’s fortunate the kid didn’t get hurt,” he said.
“They were lucky,” Gruver added. “They were really lucky.”
Largo police say it’s not worth it to keep the car running. “We’re always going to encourage people to lock their cars,” Police Lt. Paul Amodeo said. “An ounce of prevention is obviously worth a lot. The owner of the vehicle did everything he could to protect his child. That’s going to be his first instinct.”
Customers at the 7-Eleven said they see people leave their cars running all the time when going inside. “That’s normal,” Lola Castro said. “Anybody just does it. They just leave a 16-year-old in the car, just go in the gas station, pay for the pump and leave.”
Other customers said mere seconds count. “Just leaving your car running and you’re jumping out to get something whatever, two seconds and that car is gone,” Job Tores said.
The victims are doing OK. They did not want to speak on camera.
The clerk told News Channel 8 the suspect had been there before. That night he had been inside and then outside, Gruver said. He then tried to take the car.
The suspect is described as a white male, possibly in his 30s. He’s approximately 6’ tall with a thin build. He was wearing a long-sleeve, button up shirt. Police believe he is a transient.
If anyone has any information regarding the suspect’s identity or location, call Detective Brendan Arlington with the Largo Police Department at (727) 587-6730. Or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or http://www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org.