JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three people have been arrested in connection with a police cruiser stolen from an off-duty officer, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
The cruiser was later found, but guns and body armor that were also stolen from the officer have not been recovered yet, police said.
Juan Anibal Otero, 20; Orialys Santiago-Maldonado, 20; and Kyler Evans, 24, have all been charged with armed burglary and auto theft. All three appeared in court Thursday.
Otero is also charged with carrying a concealed firearm, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana and Evans is also facing a marijuana possession charge. Court records show Evans was arrested in 2015 after a series of car burglaries and pleaded guilty.
William Anderson, a resident a Westside neighborhood, was startled by the noise of a SWAT team serving a warrant.
"I had a group of people last night at my house. We had a Bible study, and then when I'm cleaning up the house, all of a sudden, later on, I hear JSO: "We have an arrest warrant. Come out with your hands up," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, Evans lived in the home next door to him. When News4Jax reporter Scott Johnson approached the home, people closed the blinds. No one answered the door.
News4Jax also visited the listed addresses of the other arrested men. No one answered the door at either home.
Y Bel Ksor, 20, was also taken into custody with Otero and was later charged with illegally possessing a handgun. He has not been charged in connection with the stolen cruiser.
JSO said it is still investigating and working to find the stolen firearms and body armor taken during the burglary.
Anyone who has any information on the crime is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
Officer finds patrol car missing
According to a police report, three people were seen Sunday morning outside the officer's home, and one man broke in and ransacked the house, stealing the officer's JSO-issued handgun, personal shotgun and the keys to her marked patrol car.
Police said the officer returned home from a trip and found her cruiser missing from the driveway and her home broken into.
According to the report, the cruiser had a JSO-issued rifle with scope, along with ammunition, a bulletproof vest, a riot helmet, an active shooter vest and other equipment.
Detectives were called and JSO put out an alert on social media to the public about the missing cruiser. Comments flooded in, including a few tips on where the cruiser might be. It turned out, according to the Sheriff's Office, one tipster had seen the car on Firestone Road.
Police responded to the area and found it abandoned at a Westside apartment complex, the police report shows.
The rifle, bulletproof vest, riot helmet and active shooter vest were in the cruiser when it was found Tuesday evening, but the officer's agency-issued handgun and personal shotgun remain missing, according to an incident report.
The Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax that its biggest concern was someone using the cruiser to impersonate a police officer and pull people over.
"We take our vehicles home. I don’t recall, as of as long as I’ve been doing this job, a police car being stolen out of an officer’s driveway. It’s a very rare event," JSO spokesman Officer Christian Hancock said Wednesday." Unfortunately, it happens. Cars get stolen every day."
Hide the keys
One question a lot of people had about JSO cruiser No. 2184 was why it didn’t have GPS. The Sheriff's Office told News4Jax that it can track certain electronics in cars while they’re turned on, but that wasn’t the case and police didn’t have a way to track it.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said this is a warning for everyone to make sure their keys are not easy to find.
"When the keys are left around in an obvious place, someone breaks into your house, they’re going to take your keys, they’re going to open things up," Jefferson said. "But when they see car keys there, they’re going to break into your car, more than likely, when they break into your house."