POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A string of car burglaries in a neighborhood near Lakeland earlier this week was solved after a teenage boy who joined in the thefts accidentally shot himself in the arm with a gun he stole, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Early Tuesday morning, deputies said at least six car burglaries occurred in the Cherry Lane Estates neighborhood near Medulla in unincorporated Polk County. At around 9:11 p.m. the following night, deputies said they responded to a residence in the Medulla Oaks neighborhood in reference to a report of an accidental shooting.
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Deputies met with a 16-year-old boy and two 14-year-old boys at the residence, finding one of the 14-year-olds had been shot in the arm.
The scene took place in the home of one of the two unhurt teens, who told deputies they were both asleep when the other boy was shot. Deputies said the boys claimed they found the gun as a group and denied knowing where it went after the shooting, according to a news release.
A search of the boy’s room turned up a woman’s wallet with an ID card inside, another woman’s debit card and an ammunition magazine, items which had all been reported stolen in the Cherry Lane Estates car burglaries, the release stated.
Deputies said the boys allegedly admitted to Tuesday’s burglaries after being confronted with the evidence found, and detectives were soon shown to where two stolen handguns were hidden outside of the home.
The injured boy was taken to a hospital in Tampa, deputies said. All three teens face charges of armed burglary, burglary of a conveyance, grand theft of a firearm, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft, possession of a firearm by a juvenile, possession of personal identification and petit theft.
“Most car burglaries occur to vehicles that are left unlocked, and as a law enforcement officer, that is very frustrating. Even more frustrating is when a firearm is stolen from an unlocked vehicle,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Fortunately, the boy should have a full recovery, and hopefully everyone involved has learned some valuable lessons here.”