ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Four Jacksonville teenagers are in a heap of trouble after police say they took an AR-15 rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a silencer and body armor from a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office patrol car.
Because the four teens are ages 14 to 16, News4Jax is not identifying them by name. Each of the teenagers were charged with burglary.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, several vehicles were burglarized in an undisclosed neighborhood. It’s unclear if the burglarized vehicles were left unlocked.
Included in the burglaries was a deputy’s unmarked patrol car. Investigators said windows to the patrol car were smashed, and the trunk that contained a service rifle and ammunition was popped open. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the cruiser had been “locked and armed.”
Investigators said about 600 of the stolen rounds were for an AR-15 rifle.
“That would be equivalent to 30 boxes of this stuff. Each box has 20 rounds,” explained Z. Farhat, sales manager at Green Acres Sporting Goods.
For perspective on how much was stolen, he offered a visual. He said 600 rounds of ammo for the rifle would have fit into 20 magazines:
Additionally, 400 rounds of 9mm bullets were taken from the patrol car.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson says that much ammo, along with an AR-15 rifle, a silencer and body armor in the possession of minors is a scary thought.
“We’re talking about juveniles who had already wreaked havoc by breaking into cars,” Jefferson said. “Who knows what they would have done?”
Police were led to a home on Sandusky Avenue near Beach Blvd. A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said on the morning of Sept. 6th she and her husband saw officers outside with guns drawn on her neighbor’s house.
“We came out a little later and there were like 25 police cars all around the neighborhood,” the neighbor said.
Police say the couple who owns the home are the grandparents to one of the suspects, who is 14 years old. The grandfather, investigators said, told police his grandson and three of his grandson’s friends were inside. The two grandparents evacuated the home, but police said the four teens barricaded themselves. Eventually, all four surrendered.
The neighbor said it’s the second time she’d seen police at the home.
A spokesperson for the St. Johns County sheriff’s Office issued a written statement about the theft from their patrol car. It reads:
“On September 6, a Deputy Sheriff with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office was the victim of a car burglary at their place of residence in Duval County. The unmarked vehicle was both locked and alarmed. The suspect(s) in this incident took time and utilized tremendous force to penetrate multiple layers of security, causing considerable damage to the vehicle. All stolen items were immediately recovered with the exception of an agency radio and gas mask. Despite our best efforts, we too occasionally fall victim to a crime. We will be reviewing this incident and evaluating current practices and procedures to do our best that a situation like this does not occur again. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for their prompt response in solving this crime and recovering our sensitive items.”