Pinellas Co. sheriff calls auto theft epidemic a ‘deadly game’

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says teenagers are playing a deadly game when they commit auto burglary and auto theft.

“When you have 14, 15 and 16-year olds that are dying because of their actions it needs to stop,” he said.

Sheriff Gualtieri says it is a trend the sheriff’s office has seen over the last 18 months: teens stealing cars, going into neighborhoods and taking whatever they can grab fast.

That is what the sheriff believes three teenage boys were doing before they crashed and died Sunday morning in Palm Harbor.

“One of these deceased kids that is sitting in that car across the street still has gloves on his hands from doing the car burglaries,” said Gualtieri during a news conference.

He is calling the teens “prolific offenders.”

“One of them got released on [July] 31, stole this car on August 3 and now is dead,” Gualtieri said.

A similar case happened in March of 2016. Three teen girls were killed when deputies say they tried to get away in a stolen car and crashed into a pond in St. Petersburg. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said at the time all three had a history of grand theft auto.

Sheriff Gualtieri says his office has a dedicated task force to try and prevent what happened on Sunday, but says if parents and teens don’t take responsibility it will only continue to happen

“Where are these 14 and 15-year-olds at 4 o’clock in the morning? Do their parents know where they are?,” he said. “The parents need to engage also, we cannot do it all. we cannot be responsible for these kids.”

STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON

>> BACK TO TOP STORIES

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s