14-year-old steals car from Bradenton gas station, flees from deputies, officials say

A 14-year-old boy is in juvenile detention after stealing a car from a gas station and leading Manatee County deputies on a short chase.

Deputies said the teen stole the car Tuesday night from a Wawa gas station in Bradenton after the owner left the keys in the ignition and went inside the convenience store. 

“By the time he comes out, somebody is already in the car, driving away,” said Randy Warren, a spokesperson with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s about 50 minutes later when a deputy spots that car, and we’ve been looking for it. Information’s been going out to the deputies on patrol.”

So deputies tried to initiate a traffic stop then chased the car after for just 48 seconds. Video from the county’s helicopter showed when they backed off to let the pilot track the suspect. 

At one point during the pursuit, the teen drove the car to a house on 21st Street east, got out of the vehicle and started running away through trees. The teen rushed right into a deputy at gunpoint, and he dropped to his knees with his hands up within a block.

“The person stealing the car is 14 years old. This is somebody who’s looking to go for a joyride or frankly just does not care about somebody’s personal property,” said Warren.

The car owner learned a hard lesson about leaving keys behind in a car.

The 14-year-old boy is charged with stealing a car, fleeing from deputies and driving without a license.