LARGO (FOX 13) - The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating how a burglar was able to steal a rifle and ammunition from a deputy’s cruiser.
Investigators say 18-year-old Devon Breazial broke into the unmarked car that was parked outside the deputy’s Largo home just before 5 a.m. Saturday.
According to arrest paperwork, the teen swiped the veteran deputy's tactical bag from the trunk. It was loaded with a police-issue AR-15 rifle, a bulletproof vest, a Kevlar helmet, a Taser, boxes of ammo, and multiple loaded magazines.
Two people delivering newspapers in the neighborhood saw Breazial take the bag and then run toward Starkey Road. Investigators say the teen darted across the street and tried to jump over a high fence to a 55 and older mobile park home.
A Largo police officer driving by happened to see Breazial and chased him down since he was acting suspiciously. Court papers say the teen repeatedly ignored the officer’s commands to show his hands and get on the ground.
A screwdriver and black gloves were found in his pockets.
The bag full of weapons had been tossed over the fence, and officials recovered everything that was stolen from the deputy’s car.
Neighbors tell FOX 13 News they’re happy the guns didn't end up in the wrong hands.
"It just seems like in Pinellas County the whole car theft, car break-in issue is completely out of control,” Linda Hawthorne said. “And it's almost like they're looking for weapons, they're not even looking to steal the car or anything, they're looking for weapons and it's very scary."
On social media, the sheriff's office regularly reminds people to lock their cars. A Facebook post from August 2017 says "One of the EASIEST and most effective ways to prevent car burglaries – Lock it up!"
In this case, a department spokesperson tells FOX 13 News the deputy's cruiser was unlocked and showed no signs of forced entry.
“The deputy involved reported to investigators the vehicle was locked. The unlocked status remains under investigation to include but not limited to a possible mechanical malfunction,” Corporal Dan DiFrancesco said.
“I had spoken to him and I think there might have been a problem with his key fob,” said Hawthorne.
"I know for sure something weird happened, there's no way, no way, he's so responsible, no way he left his car open, no way," Grace Mokrzycki said.
The agency’s firearm policy says "All members who are issued or carry agency authorized firearms on or off-duty, will safely and properly secure these weapons when not in use, with the intent of preventing unauthorized adults or juveniles from gaining access to them."
Department officials would not comment if the deputy will face any disciplinary action.
Breazial is in jail, charged with armed burglary, grand theft, having burglary tools and resisting an officer.