Hernando crime spree ends in arrest, manhunt

Posted at 2:58 AM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 02:58:27-04

A three week long crime spree in Hernando County has ended with the apprehension of one suspect who was found hiding in a clothes dryer and a manhunt for the other.

Chris Roberts, 32,was arrested in Pasco County Sunday afternoon.

Joshua Roberts, unrelated, is still on the run.

According to deputies, the men stole three cars from Paul Clark Enterprises off Ponce De Leon Boulevard, a used car dealership, in the early morning hours of August 23.

One of the cars, an F-350 truck, was used in later crimes, according to deputies.

The men used the stolen cars to ram the gate and getaway, deputies say.

"Rammed through the gates, both are farm gates that sat on the west end of the property and yeah they just rammed right through them and that's what got them out," explained Clark.

The dealership does have surveillance cameras but a trailer was blocking the view of the property's west end.

Deputies say the men then went to Masaryktown and stole a trailer.

"Chris Roberts denied taking that but somehow it ended up at his mother's house," explained Denise Moloney, spokesperson for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Next, they went to Pit Stop, a trucking stop where trailers are stored off Ponce De Leon Boulevard, and stole a trailer, deputies said.

The trailer belonged to Mark and Margaret Brooks of Tennessee.

They told ABC Action News they had planned to relocate to Hernando County and packed their trailer full of their belongings.  They were storing it on the property which is owned by a family member.

"All of our belongings from kitchen utensils to bathroom tissue, I mean it had clothes, it had everything that we owned in it," said Mark Brooks via phone.

There were also 10 firearms in the trailer that were stolen.  A total of four rifles and six handguns.

Deputies were able to recover the trailer and the rifles, but the handguns are still missing.

Brooks told ABC Action News about a quarter of their belongings were stolen.  The family has now soured on the idea of moving to Florida.

"It put a bad taste in our mouths," Brooks said.

Deputies say they tracked the duo to Batten Road where yet another trailer was stolen.

The trailer was full of furniture and has not yet been recovered.

Deputies in Pasco County found Chris Roberts Sunday afternoon.

About 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Pasco Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Edwards Road and Hudson Avenue due to a pickup truck blocking the roadway. As deputies approached the truck, the driver, later identified as John Christopher Roberts, 32, ran , leaving behind the female passenger.

Deputies on the ground as well as the agency helicopter set up a perimeter in the area. After our K-9 Unit tracked Roberts to a shed, the suspect ran into the backyard of a Bluegill Lane residence and attempted to hide inside of a dryer. He was ordered from the dryer and taken into custody.

The truck Roberts was driving, according to deputies, was the stolen F-350.

"The vehicle they stole ran out of gas or broke down," Moloney explained.

Roberts is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest without violence, and petit theft.

He is being held without bond.

Deputies are not sure what spurred the crime spree.

"Ii don't know if they needed money for drugs or what they were doing with the items they were stealing," Moloney said.

Deputies are still searching for Joshua Roberts.  If you see him, deputies do not want you to approach him.  Instead call 911.

You are urged to call 352-754-6830 if you have any information on the whereabouts of Joshua Roberts.

If you want to remain anonymous – Please call Hernando County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-990-TIPS (8477) or submit your tip via the internet at . You will remain anonymous and also be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 cash.