46 unlocked cars stolen in south Hillsborough Co.

- Deputies say they've busted thieves believed to be responsible for 46 car thefts.They targeted driveways, parking lots and businesses in southern Hillsborough County over the last two months.

Deputies say the doors were left unlocked on all 46 stolen cars.

"That moment of clarity hits and you are just like, 'Wait a minute, I think someone just stole my car,'" said Alex Costa of Riverview. "They went up and down the street checking cars."

Jayson Rodriguez, a neighbor to Costa, says it also happened to him.

"My grandma came up to my room, we came outside and there was no car here," said Rodriguez. "We were like, freaking out."

Both of their cars were found 30 miles away from Riverview, in Clearwater, all smashed up. Of the 46 cars taken in the last two months, 41 have been recovered, but mostly near where they were taken from in southern Hillsborough.

"It just boggles my mind. What has to be going through their minds to steal something out of nowhere for no reason?" said Rodriguez.

Deputies say all 46 cars were unlocked, and the keys were either inside the car or in another car in the driveway.

14 arrests have been made on 50 felonies, including adults Corey Crews, David Edwards, Guy White, Mark Denney and Michael Morton, along with nine juveniles, one only thirteen years old.

"Some of the teens were in alternative schools. They have had problems before," said Cristal Bermudez of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "One of the teens had been arrested 11 times and he is only 16."

Deputies say some of the suspects tried to turn the parts in for money, while others stripped them of anything valuable and left them wherever.

"You can not leave the temptation out there of leaving your vehicle unlocked and your valuables inside," said Bermudez.

Both Costa and Rodriguez say it's a lesson learned.

"Normally we keep everything locked to make sure stuff like this doesn't happen," said Rodgriguez. "This was just one time."

The 14 suspects are not all connected to one another, but some were in small groups. There were also four guns stolen, but those were all recovered.

 

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