Neighbors say they caught teen crook in the act

by: Brittany Jones Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People in one Jacksonvile neighborhood were so sick of crime happening near them, they decided to fight back. Neighbors said they caught a teen suspect red-handed.

Neighbors in the Marietta Forest area said a Jeep wouldn't have been there this afternoon if it weren't for them protecting each other's homes.

"I said, 'Sir, hold it right where you are.' He kept walking, and I said, 'Sir, I'm going to tell you one last time to hold it right where you are. I do have a pistol,'" said Larry Gwaltney.

Larry Gwaltney and a friend said they caught the teen in the act.

Police said around 4 a.m., a neighbor went outside for a smoke and saw the teen was trying to steal his neighbor's Jeep. Police said he only got away with a knife before Gwaltney approached him.

"Get on your knees and get on your knees now. We're not playing around with you," said Gwaltney.

Gwaltney said he and a friend held him at gunpoint for about 15 minutes until police arrived. He said his neighborhood has had enough of crooks stealing from people in recent weeks.

"You find a lot of these homes are being broken into. It's just at random, but it's happening on a weekly basis here lately. Where these people coming from, I don't know," said Gwaltney.

"So far my SUV has been broken into actually seven times. The back window has been busted out three times. I had over $20,000 of equipment stolen out of it," said Gwaltney.

Action News dug through the crime stats for the area. Action News found that between this time last year and this year, the neighborhood had more than 80 home burglaries, more than 60 vehicle burglaries, and nearly 200 vehicles stolen.

The Jeep's owner, Jennifer Blanton, said she's thankful the teen didn't get far.

"I'm thankful that they actually caught him. If not, he could have gone down the street and did several vehicles or finally got one," said Blanton.

Blanton said she was scared but hopes the burglaries and thefts with stop soon. But neighbors said they are sending thieves a strong message.

"When you catch them like this, that sends a message: Hey, you better stop or you're going to get caught," said Gwaltney.

Action News also did some checking on the overall vehicle thefts in Jacksonville. Action News found that auto thefts are up 24 percent, auto burglaries are up 10 percent, and robbery carjackings are up 56 percent from 2013 to 2014.

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