Suspected car thief caught after crash

Imagine waking up to find your car had been stolen, then learning less than a hour later that it had been totaled by the thief driving it.

It didn't take Pinellas Park police long to recover a stolen 2008 Chevy Malibu once they arrived at a violent crash scene Wednesday morning at the corner of 66th Ave and 66th St.

The car, driven by Matthew Rhine, 25, with two juvenile passengers, barreled through a stop sign and was T-boned by a work truck, police said.

As firefighters cut three people from inside the mangled wreckage, another officer was talking to the owner and heard police radio chatter about the crash.

"He hears this crash investigation underway for a Chevy Malibu while he's taking a report of a stolen Chevy Malibu," Sgt. Adam Geissenberger said.

The officer told the owner they found his car.

"I was immediately upset. I didn't expect that kind of news," the owner said. "My first response to ask him to take me there."

As the crash investigation continued, police learned all three people inside the stolen Malibu have extensive criminal histories.

"They are all property offenders, they are known to us," Sgt. Geissenberger said.

Rhine was charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license and failing to stop at the stop sign. More charges are pending for Rhine and his two juveniles passengers.

The owner is now dealing with his insurance company, and he's somewhat glad his car was recovered even if it was in pieces.

"Karma got them and I'm grateful. I think they got what they deserved," the car owner said.