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Middleburg car burglary suspect arrested

Deputies: Man may be connected to dozens of other auto burglaries reported

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County deputies arrested a car burglary suspect early Tuesday morning and are working to see if he was involved in about 50 other auto burglaries that happened recently in the Middleburg area, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Chase Bennett, 18, was arrested after he was caught stealing from a vehicle by the owner, deputies said.

Deputies were called to a car burglary at a home on Pine Tree Lane about 2:30 a.m.

When they arrived, the victim said he and his girlfriend arrived home early Tuesday morning to find a white man wearing dark clothing getting out of his car, which was parked in the driveway.

When the victim spotted the suspect, the suspect fled westbound on Pine Street, deputies said.

Deputies set a perimeter around the surrounding area by, and a K-9 search revealed the suspect hiding in the yard of a neighbor, deputies said.

When the suspect was captured, the victim was able to identify him as the same man they spotted leaving his vehicle, deputies said. They said they also found that cologne, boots, a prescription note and a pack of cigarettes were missing from the vehicle, and those items were later located by deputies.

There were 50 car burglaries reported in Middleburg in a recent four-week period, deputies said. They said that in every case the vehicle doors were left unlocked so the crooks entered and exited the cars unnoticed, stealing money and personal items.

Deputies said the specific area targeted by thieves were neighborhoods within the quad of Blanding and Alligator boulevards, Hibiscus Avenue and County Road 218.

Detectives said they're now working to determine if Bennett is connected to the dozens of previous cases mentioned above and if he has any accomplices.