Tampa police catch auto burglary suspects after they flee and crash into palm tree

Early morning surveillance by Tampa police led to a short aerial pursuit down Bayshore Blvd. that ended  when the suspects crashed their car.

"It was pretty nerve-racking to wake up to that. I jumped right out of bed," said Steve Sladek as he sat on the front porch of his home. 

Sladek was sound asleep when a white four-door car plowed into a palm tree at the corner of Rome and Richardson St., just out the window from where he was sleeping.

"The driver jumped out of the car and ran down Richardson St," Sladek said.

According to Tampa Police, it all started a couple miles away at Patriot Park at Bay to Bay and Bayshore.  Many people leave their cars at the park while they go for a morning workout along Bayshore.  Since December, the park and nearby neighborhoods had seen an increase in car burglaries. 

"Today in particular, we had surveillance in the park, and the officers observed a suspicious car," said Tampa Police Major Paul Driscoll. 

The car turned out to be stolen, and the driver took off when TPD went to block it in. It took the Gasparilla parade route north on Bayshore before turning onto Rome and crashing a block later. 

Justin George and Jeremy Holloway were both caught in nearby yards after trying to flee from police.

Shanna Brown lives near the crash site. 

"It's a pretty safe area.  But to think it's going on under our nose is very scary.

Crime has actually gone from being at night, under cover, to being in broad daylight, and we're unsuspecting of it," explained Brown.

For people like Rob Wilson, who use this area frequently,  they know there is strength in numbers.

"It's concerning, obviously.  Probably not the smartest thing to do because there's people in and out and eventually you're going to get caught," said Wilson. 

And that's exactly what Tampa Police had in mind when they set up the surveillance.

"It is good to get them off the street, because obviously, since December, they've been causing us problems," said Driscoll.

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