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Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Car thefts continue in Pinellas, this time in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — Police officers arrested five people, including three kids, accused of stealing a Lexus from St. Petersburg and trying to break into cars 30 miles north in Tarpon Springs.

According to Tarpon Springs police, officers about 1:30 a.m. spotted a white Lexus prowling with its lights off in the area of Castleworks Lane and Toddsmill Trace. The occupants, ranging in age from 14 to 18, got out of the car and started pulling handles of cars parked in driveways.

The officers confronted the group, which then drove away in the Lexus, police said. More officers spotted and tried to stop the car, but it kept going east on Klosterman Road.

An officer threw a tire deflation device known as a stop stick at U.S. 19 and Klosterman. The car drove over it but continued south on U.S. 19. Police requested help from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. About 50 minutes after police first saw the car, it stopped at a 7-Eleven at 5451 31st St. S in St. Petersburg.

Police arrested the five occupants. The Tampa Bay Times is withholding the identities of the juveniles who were arrested because of their ages. Arrested were: Anthony Grayson, 18, of St. Petersburg; Igor Lavrenenko, 18, of Pinellas Park; a 14-year-old boy from Pinellas Park; and two 16-year-old boys from St. Petersburg.

In a news release, police emphasized car theft and burglary are frequent problems in Pinellas County and reminded residents to lock their cars. In the last month, there were at least two other reports of young men from elsewhere in the county trying to burglarize cars in Tarpon Springs.

Also this month, Clearwater police arrested seven people over three days in connection to a rash of burglaries of unlocked cars.

Last year, the Times investigated both car theft and car burglary. The first revealed that in Pinellas, a child crashes a stolen car every four days. The second found that car burglaries are driving a statewide stolen gun epidemic.

TAMPA BAY TIMES SPECIAL REPORT: HOW TEENS ARE DRIVING PINELLAS COUNTY’S CAR THEFT EPIDEMIC

HOT WHEELS: Kids are driving Pinellas County’s car-theft epidemic. It’s a dangerous — sometimes deadly — game.

THE CHASE: Cops, teen car thieves and a dangerous game

WRONG WAY: At 15, Isaiah Battle was the county’s No. 1 car thief. He had every reason to stop.

TAMPA BAY TIMES SPECIAL REPORT: STOLEN GUNS

PART 1: At least 82,000 guns stolen since 2007 are still missing in Florida

PART 2: Weak security makes gun stores a ‘rich environment’ for thieves

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