VERMONT HEIGHTS, Fla. – Six teenagers were arrested within hours of a rash of car burglaries in St. Johns County before dawn Friday morning.
The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said deputies on the ground, K-9 teams and a helicopter were used in a manhunt that began after people were seen breaking into cars in the Vermont Heights area, off State Road 207.
Deputies were told that six young people in a car were trying to get away when they knocked down a stop sign and a tree in a front yard near the corner of West New England Drive and Claremont Court.
According to Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan, five of the people were detained by 8:30 a.m. and deputies located the sixth person by 11 a.m. Devin Brooker, Joselin Largura and Isaish Tomory, each 18 years old, two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old were each charged with burglary to a conveyance, but are suspects in other break-ins. One of the 16-year-olds is also charged with two counts of hit-and-run with property damage and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
"They have given us some general information that they started somewhere near the Duval County line and St. Johns County and were hitting communities on the way down, committing burglaries to unlocked cars," Mulligan said.
One gun stolen from a vehicle was recovered after the first four suspects were taken into custody. The car they were using was stolen from within St. Johns County and was dumped at a nearby church on State Road 207.
A woman told News4Jax that she was approached by a young man who offered to pay her $10 for a ride. She told him no, and believes he may have been one of the suspects because of his demeanor and behavior.
"I was scared," said Rhonda, who only wanted to give her first name. "I only rolled my window down about this much because I knew what they were looking for this morning and I was not about let him into my car."
A neighbor in the area said one of the suspects targeted his pickup truck and he was able to catch a photo of the suspect with his home surveillance camera.