ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 17-year-old was arrested and a second teenager is wanted in connection with a string of car burglaries this week in northwest St. Johns County.
Deputies arrested Noah Pringle at his home Friday night, hours after two guns and laptop computers taken from cars between Wednesday night and Friday morning were recovered.
On Thursday night, News4Jax reported break-ins in the northwest part of the county, in the Bishop Estates area. Four burglaries took place on Durbin Parke Drive, and a 2016 Chrysler 300 with Louisiana license plates was stolen from a residence on Bartram Parke Drive. It was a rental car.
Surveillance video from a house in the Bishop Estates area showed two men going through cars in the neighborhood about 3:30 a.m. (Image below) The thieves got a wallet, a stethoscope and a car charger from one of the cars, and a laptop from another.
Nothing was taken from the other two. One neighbor said his car was rummaged through, and items were taken out and placed on the grass.
The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said several cars were stolen and at least 13 vehicles were also burglarized late this week in and around the St. Johns Golf and Country Club, off County Road 210.
This week’s incidents include Thursday night’s crime spree on St. Johns Golf Drive and Eagle Point Drive, where police reported two auto thefts and six vehicle burglaries. Additionally, deputies said a white 2016 Mercedes C300 was stolen off Meadow View Lane and a black 2003 Honda Pilot was taken from Stonehenge Trail Lane.
"This is terrible. This is a great community," Matthew Waters said. "You wouldn't usually expect that here, but I guess it happens everywhere nowadays."
On Monday night, deputies said, there were three smash-and-grab car burglaries in parking lots in and around the St. Augustine Outlets.
Law enforcement said it's important to lock car doors, no matter where you've parked. For an hour, News4Jax watched people pull in to the parking lot. Everyone we saw locked their doors.
"Every time I get out of my car, I click it twice," driver Trey Jarrell said. "Until I hear that (beep), I don't walk away."
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith discussed whether it's possible crooks are working their way from neighborhood to neighborhood.
"It could be the same people, but not necessarily because it is profitable to them. You have several groups that are doing this. The reason they do it is because they are successful with it. As much as we say, 'Remember to lock your car doors,' they know everyone is not doing that," Smith said.
Though a few of the break-ins have been captured on surveillance video, Smith said, the cameras do little to keep thieves from stealing.
"They know it's there, so they will just disguise themselves or park the car they come in away from the actual residence so no one can pick up the tag number," he said.
One of the victims told News4Jax on Thursday that he and his wife plan to install security cameras and motion-activated lights on their property this week to keep their home safe.
Anyone who recognizes the man shown in the latest surveillance photo is asked to call police. In all of the cases, all the vehicles targeted were unlocked, according to police. Two handguns also were reported stolen.
"That's horrible. Now they have every chance to go around and further their criminal enterprise," Waters said.