Police: 2 juveniles arrested after rash of car burglaries at Westside repair shop

20 cars at AAMCO broken into on 4 different occasions, Jacksonville police say

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two juveniles were arrested after at least 20 customers had their cars broken into at an auto shop on Jacksonville's Westside, authorities said.

The suspects broke into cars in a storage yard, secured by a locked, wooden fence, at AAMCO Transmissions on 103rd Street on four different occasions in January and February, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reports show. 

One man told News4Jax on Monday that he dropped off his work truck at the AAMCO in January and the thieves broke into the truck in February. But the man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was unaware that happened until he got a letter from the District Attorney's Office on Friday.

"I just received a letter in the mail saying that I had been a victim of the crime. I went up there and found out that my vehicle had been broken into," he said. "I went up to the shop and watched the video, which showed the kids breaking in there, opening car doors that were just left unsecured and unlocked. And that's the part I have a real big problem with."

The man said his work truck was broken into while getting repaired at AAMCO. He said the thieves didn't take anything of value, but they damaged his truck.

"They did hit the side of the door with a tire iron to break out the windows and scratch up some other things on it," the victim said. "It's about $3,000 worth of damage."

According to the police reports, the doors of the vehicles at the Westside shop's storage yard were left unlocked.

The police reports show the suspects were able to break into the storage yard using a utility box to climb over the 8-foot wooden fence.

AAMCO officials said the business eventually got security cameras, which helped police identify, and eventually arrest, two juvenile males. 

But AAMCO said it has no specific policy when it comes to reimbursing customers for damages suffered on its property. 

"AAMCO doesn’t have a policy per se, other than they’re required to have garage keeper liability insurance," said Dean Black, chairman of Jacksonville AAMCO Dealers.

AAMCO Transmissions officials also said they have state-of-the art security cameras, but it's best for people to never leave valuables in their cars. They also said the owner of the store on 103rd Street is doing everything he can to keep customers' cars safe.

But the one man who News4Jax spoke with said if he didn't trust his vehicle would be safe at the shop, he would have never left it there in the first place.

"I feel like they should have some responsibility for what happened, considering they told me it was up to me to take care of any damages that happened to my vehicle," he said.

It's unclear whether AAMCO will pay for the damage or why it took so long for the man to be notified that his truck was broken into. 

At least one of the juveniles is expected to have his arraignment Tuesday morning. 

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