59ºF

Deputies: 4 Teens Admit To Entering 15 Cars

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Four St. Johns County teenagers were arrested on charges of burglary and petty theft early Tuesday morning after deputies investigated reports of car doors opening and closing in the 6500 block of Burnham Court.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said witnesses saw two figures in the driveway and the suspects ran when the residents went outside to investigate. The two subjects went to a nearby vehicle, where two more subjects were spotted. All four then fled on foot.

Video:

A 25-year-old man who wants to remain anonymous said he heard the commotion outside his window.

"I was about to lay down and I heard some car doors opening up in the driveway, and I looked outside and saw people going through, opening and closing the doors of me and my family's vehicles," the man said. "I told them to get out. The one that was closest to me on the driver's side, I kind of pulled out. I told both of them to sit down and they sat down. ... I was in my underwear and looked pretty angry, so I guess they were pretty intimidated."

Deputies, as well as a K-9 and his handler, tracked the suspects to the intersection of PGA Tour Boulevard and Cypress Bridge Drive, where they found two men in a vehicle. The Sheriff's Office said the passenger, who appeared to be wet and fatigued, was questioned and admitted to the deputy that he was with three other males, and they had entered up to 15 other vehicles during the evening.

Additional deputies rounded up the other three suspects and reported that all admitted to the burglaries.

Andrew Michael Matthews, 19, and 18-year-olds Samuel West Powell, Colton Edward Feidler and Austin Ganedy Lubis were booked into the County Jail.

Property allegedly stolen from the vehicles was seized pending positive identification from the victims. The investigation was continuing.

"I think it's scary. You don't feel safe in your own neighborhood sometimes," resident Cathy Polleschultz said.

This was the fifth rash of car hopping incidents in the county in the last few months.

"This has been an issue in northeast Florida for the last couple of years now," Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said. "What's been very advantageous to law enforcement recently is very alert and aware citizens."

That's exactly what the 25-year-old man was.

"I'm not proud of getting some kids in trouble, but it's a dumb thing, and hopefully they'll learn from it," he said. "From what I've heard, for the most part, they're good kids. They just did something stupid, so it should be a learning experience. You know, I did dumb stuff when I was a kid, too, and hopefully they're able to recover from it and do something more worthwhile with their time."

Deputies say it's simple for residents to just lock their doors to prevent these types of crimes.