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Hillsborough Deputies Accuse 4 Teens of ‘Car Hopping’

Crime | Arrest | Public Safety

Stealing from unlocked cars is a “significant” problem in south Hillsborough County, the Sheriff’s Office said.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – Four teenaged boys have been accused of “car hopping,” the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.

Elias Valdez Jr., 16, of Wimauma, was charged with seven counts of burglary of a conveyance, two counts grand theft of a motor vehicle, two counts grand theft firearm, three counts grand theft third degree, two counts armed burglary of a conveyance, two counts minor in possession of a firearm, three counts petit theft, and several warrant charges. Valdez has been arrested a total of 17 times for similar offenses, deputies said.

Corben Miller, 17, of Riverview, was charged with four counts burglary of a conveyance, one count grand theft motor vehicle, two counts armed burglary of a conveyance, two counts grand theft firearm, one count grand theft third degree, two counts minor in possession of a firearm, and two counts petit theft. Deputies said this is Miller’s third arrest for similar offenses since June.

Jacob Roman, 16, of Apollo Beach was charged with one count burglary of a conveyance.

David Bustos, 17, of Apollo Beach, was charged with one count burglary of a conveyance and one count grand theft of motor vehicle.

Between Oct. 18 and Oct. 29, deputies said numerous vehicle burglaries and auto thefts took place in Hillsborough. In each of these cases, the vehicles were left unlocked with valuables in plain view.

The vehicle thefts occurred during nighttime sprees, referred to as “car hopping.” During these incidents, the teens walked down residential streets and attempted to open car doors. Once inside the vehicle, the boys stole a range of items and, if the keys were in the vehicle, the vehicle itself.

“Car hopping” is a significant problem in south Hillsborough because of the amount of large scale subdivisions creating easy opportunities for theft. Deputies said this is further complicated by the number of residents who leave their vehicles unlocked with keys, firearms and valuables left inside.

The following statistics were gathered during the investigations:

*Five stolen vehicles were believed to be tied to the four teens, which includes one from Pinellas County.
*Three firearms were taken from unlocked vehicles within the District IV area of Hillsborough. None have been recovered.
*The total number of vehicles burglarized throughout the area is unclear. Deputies said they believe many took place, but fewer than 10 were reported.

Deputies are warning residents to lock their cars. If residents don’t lock their cars, deputies said they should remember to remove any valuables including miscellaneous paperwork that could lead to identity theft.

For information about the Hillsborough sheriff, go to hcso.tampa.fl.us

Hillsborough Sheriff | Crime | Car Theft | Burglary | Car Hopping | Arrests | Tampabay News

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Hillsborough Deputies Accuse 4 Teens of 'Car Hopping'
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Hillsborough Deputies Accuse 4 Teens of 'Car Hopping'
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Stealing from unlocked cars is a "significant" problem in south Hillsborough County, the Sheriff's Office said.
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TB Reporter
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