Remember the stolen St. Petersburg Police car, which was ditched in Lake Maggiore on Monday morning? The weapons were stolen from the trunk. It may sound like a one-of-a-kind crime, but it's not.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office told us one of its unmarked vehicles was also broken into earlier this month, near 80th Avenue and 41st Street North in Pinellas Park.
And this time the burglars stole more than just weapons. All sorts of other things that could be dangerous fell into the wrong hands, including official IDs, a police radio and a sheriff's deputy badge, just the sort of things you could use to "act" like you're the law.
"We've had plenty of reasons to feel unsafe," said Pinellas Park preacher Ed Benesh, who said when he heard about his deputy neighbor getting his weapons stolen, it just reminded him to lock the doors and keep his German shepherd at the ready.
"We've had bikes stolen. We've had our car we used to have broken into multiple times, come out in the morning, door would be hanging open, all the change is gone," Benesh said. "They never take anything big."
That was until a couple weeks ago, when a deputy's trunk was broken into on his unmarked car.
"No one has been arrested and these leads haven't led anywhere at this point in time," said Cecilia Barreda with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
So, they're asking for tips from anyone who was around that area a couple weeks ago to come forward if they have any new information, which could lead to an arrest.
"It is part of our standard policy, procedure, that our deputies are able to keep their guns stored away in their locked trunks," said Barreda.
The suspect stole a Rock River Arms rifle and its magazines, a Glock pistol, a black sheriff's vest marked "Sheriff" in bold white letters, plus his badge and agency credentials.
Officials told us the deputy would not face any discipline for leaving his gear in his car. That's an approved procedure.
That person could pose as an officer and even though there is no connection, it's equally disturbing that a St. Pete detective's car was stolen Sunday and found in a lake Monday.
Stolen from inside was a 45-caliber Glock handgun, ammunition and the officer's personal assault rifle. On Wednesday, police said they recovered the belongings at various locations around the city. They did not say whether an arrest had been made.
That car was also unmarked, but once you get inside, the police told us there are some giveaways.
"In many cases, we have emergency lights that fold down, they can find that, the police radio is inside," said Sgt. Mike Puetz with the St. Pete Police Department.
Benesh knows it wouldn't be a stretch for whoever stole those weapons to do something worse.
"One, if you're bold enough to break into a deputy's car, you're not going to have any problem coming into my house with the new-found weaponry that they have," said Benesh.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said it is reviewing its policy of keeping weapons in unmarked cars right now. If you think you know who stole the weapons from the deputy's trunk, call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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