Deputies: 2 arrested in string of car burglaries

Clay County Sheriff's Office booking photos of Aaron Driver (left) and Chase Bennett
Clay County Sheriff's Office booking photos of Aaron Driver (left) and Chase Bennett

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Clay County deputies say they‘ve solved a string of car burglaries that have been plaguing residents from Middleburg to Orange Park.

According to detectives, all 52 car burglaries were committed by the same two men: 18-year-old Aaron Jason Driver and 19-year-old Chase Daniel Bennett. They are charged with multiple counts of burglary and grand theft.

In each case, the owners of the cars left the doors unlocked and the cars were parked in dimly lit areas. Deputies said the men only took things they could easily carry away.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, my whole car is trashed," said Shari Wing. "Everything out of the console, the glove box, the doo jiggy thing in the back seat."

Wing said her heart sank when we she went to her minivan only to find that the vehicle had been rummaged through, leaving her feeling like she was taken advantage of.

"Going into someone's car like that is like going through someone's house," Wing said. "That's my private space, and I don't know, I don't feel violated, but I feel creepy."

Deputies said Driver and Bennett were responsible for 26 auto burglary cases involving 52 vehicles.

Two other families along Wing's street in rural Middleburg were also affected. Deputies said the men randomly checked the door handles of cars, sometimes burglarizing more than one vehicle at a single house, stealing anything that they considered to be of value.

Among the items reported stolen from the burglarized vehicles were several hand guns, a knife, a GPS, mp3 players, an iPhone charger, prescription sunglasses, two packs of cigarettes, a flashlight, a handjack and cash.

Detective Jason Wright said the the teens were eventually caught red-handed by a woman who returned home to find them breaking into her car. Deputies said they have recovered most of the stolen items and are working to return them to their rightful owners.

"I never knew it was that many (victims), it was mind-blowing -- 52 people," Wing said. "Get a job. Go to school."
Victims are now being asked if their cars were damaged or if any personal information was stolen, as the State Attorney's Office prepares to take the men to court.  

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