HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Burglars stole guns and ammunition from a Hillsborough County detective’s agency-issued car in November 2018, according to the Sheriff's Office. A deputy has been suspended for a day after an investigation found he did not properly follow gun storage protocol.
Deputies ultimately recovered one out of the two guns stolen.
According to court documents, it happened on November 29th, just before 3 a.m. in the area of Fletcher Avenue West and Armenia Avenue. The detective contacted the Sheriff's Office and reported that unknown people unlawfully entered his assigned HCSO Dodge Charger.
While inside the car, the unknown people armed themselves with the detective’s personally owned Glock 43, his FHN-9C, two holsters and two HCSO handgun magazines. The total value of stolen items is more than $1,000. The court documents indicate both guns were fully loaded.
“My thoughts? An investigation. See if it was properly locked up," said neighbor James Wilson.
HCSO did precisely that. They say their policy mandates guns and ammo be kept secure, like in a chain locked trunk. The deputy, they say, didn't do that. He left the guns inside the locked car. The agency determined one of his doors had a malfunction making it appear locked when it was really open.
Through their investigation they located two suspects. On February 1st, investigators met with one of the suspects, a minor, who admitted to being a part of the burglary with co-defendant Desmond Hockelberg. The document states the minor is “identified as one of the subjects who was first in possession of both firearms.”
“We don’t know what can happen with these guns, where are they?” asked neighbor Gladys Ward.
On February 4th, investigators interviewed Hockelberg who admitted to being involved in the burglary. Furthermore, Hockelberg told them he traded the stolen Glock 43 to a man for cocaine and marijuana. Deputies made contact with that man via the minor suspect’s iPhone. A search warrant filed on February 5th gives investigators legal access to check the phone for evidence.
Hockelberg faces charges including grand theft of a firearm, dealing in stolen property and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
It's not just HCSO.
Over in Sarasota County a deputy's sniper-rifle was stolen out of his unlocked car. ABC Action News is learning he was suspended for two days and taken off the SWAT team. In Pinellas County, a deputy got a written reprimand after his AR-15, bullet-proof vest and ammo were stolen from his unlocked cruiser.
“They [law enforcement] should always be at a higher standard no matter what because they’re our protection and if someone can get access to their weapons or if they are not doing the responsible thing that’s not good," said neighbor Janice Powell.