PCSO Press Release:
During the early morning hours of Sunday, March 31, 2019, PCSO deputies, with the assistance of a K-9 team, tracked and apprehended a group of four teenagers shortly after they were seeing checking car door handles and breaking into at least one car in the north Lakeland area. According to one of the suspects, a firearm that was recovered had been stolen during the burglary spree.
“This is a perfect example of see something, say something, combined with excellent teamwork by patrol and K-9. Two different homeowners in Lakeland saw these teens lurking and breaking into cars, and they called us – we quickly responded and tracked the burglars hiding under an abandoned car.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
According to the affidavits, around 1:33 a.m. on March 31st, PCSO received a call from a homeowner on Hunters Crossing Blvd in Lakeland who said he saw some unknown teenagers checking to see if cars in his neighborhood were locked. When deputies arrived, the homeowner showed them video from his home security system, which showed the four teens. A PCSO K-9 team responded, and while searching, PCSO received another call from a homeowner on Ridgegreen Loop North, who said he confronted a teenager who was inside his (the victim’s) car. The teen fled on foot towards Winifred Way.
Deputies quickly set up a perimeter and the K-9 team began a new track. The K-9 alerted on a black Honda parked in the area, and then tracked to Burrisridge Drive, north to Winifred Way, and through a grass alley where a disabled vehicle was parked. The four suspects, ages 14-18 years old, were hiding under that vehicle. They were taken into custody without incident.
The 18-year-old suspect told deputies that he drove the black Honda to the area, and that there was a loaded gun inside of it. Deputies learned that the gun was stolen from a vehicle during the series of burglaries. The deputies recovered the firearm and are working to determine its rightful owner.
The 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and 17-year-old were all taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, and the 18-year-old was taken to the Polk County Jail. They’ve all been charged with several felonies. The investigation is ongoing, and additional charges may be filed.
Those arrested are:
18-year-old Jacob Ashley of Lakeland; charged with 2 counts armed burglary of conveyance (F-1), possession of burglary tools (F-3), contributing to the delinquency of a minor (M-1); and loitering and prowling (M-2).
14-year-old Thomas Avery of Lakeland; charged with 2 counts armed burglary of conveyance (F-1), possession of burglary tools (F-3), possession of a firearm by a minor (M-1), and loitering or prowling (M-2).
15-year-old Kyle Vitito of Lakeland; charged with 2 counts armed burglary of conveyance (F-1), possession of burglary tools (F-3), possession of a firearm by a minor (M-1), and loitering or prowling (M-2).