NewsPinellas County


Pinellas Sheriff's cruiser left 'unlocked' as suspect steals gun, ammo from trunk

Deputy denies leaving cruiser unlocked
Posted at 11:13 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 23:13:36-05

LARGO, Fla. — Pinellas County investigators are trying to figure out if a veteran deputy left his cruiser unlocked before a teenager stole several weapons out of its trunk over the weekend. 

An arrest affidavit states Devon Breaziel, 18, broke into the deputy's unmarked car around 5 a.m. Saturday. 

The cruiser was parked outside his Largo home. 

"I look down the road in our complex and there's like four squad cars," said neighbor Rich Folgers. 

The suspect snagged the deputy's black tactical bag that contained a department-issued assault rifle, bullet-proof vest, Taser, ammo, and several full magazines. 

Breaziel darted across Starkey Road and tried jumping the wall into a 55 and older mobile home community. A Largo police officer passing by was able to arrest Breaziel at the scene, locating the duffle bag on the other side of the wall. 

"It's pretty scary when you know there's weapons and things in a car and they've been stolen," said Linda Hawthorne, who lives next door to the deputy. 

Hawthorne tells ABC Action News, they've been the victim of three break-ins and her daughter's car was also targeted Saturday morning. 

"It seems like that's an ongoing thing here in Pinellas County at this point with car thefts and car break-ins, it seems like they're looking for weapons now," said Hawthorne. 

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office utilizes social media to stress the importance of locking car doors to prevent break-ins and theft. 

But it appears their own deputy did not follow that advice. A spokesperson tells ABC Action News, the car was unlocked and showed no signs of forced entry. 

But the deputy denies that he left the vehicle unlocked. 

"The deputy involved reported to investigators the vehicle was locked," said Corporal Dan Difrancesco, with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "The unlocked status remains under investigation to include but not limited to a possible mechanical malfunction."

The sheriff's office would not comment if the deputy will face any disciplinary actions. 

Breaziel is in jail on several charges including grand theft and armed burglary.