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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Four Island children steal Mercedes

Four Island juveniles were arrested in Holmes Beach March 30 for stealing a Mercedes automobile from a home on North Harbor Lane.

One male juvenile, 15, of Holmes Beach, and three females, ages 12-13, one from Anna Maria and two from Holmes Beach, were charged with one count each of automobile theft and burglary.

According to the report, Phillip and Michelle Paine phoned police when they saw the group of juveniles enter their neighbor's vacant home. The home apparently is undergoing renovation and was left unsecured. The absent property owner, Joseph Morrison, had parked his 1987 two-door Mercedes in the garage of the house before going north.

The children were observed driving away in the car, although Morrison, who was contacted by police in New Jersey, said that he had both sets of car keys and no one is authorized to drive the car. Morrison faxed an affidavit stating the car was stolen to the Holmes Beach Police Department.

Officers then set up surveillance in the area and apprehended the youths approximately two hours later as they drove along Gulf Drive.

Following their arrest, one of the females reportedly told police she took the other juveniles to Morrison's house because she knew it was empty and the car was there. She also told an officer that she wanted to move back to West Virginia and hoped her friend would drive her there.

According to the report, they all stated that they thought the homeowners must be dead, since no one was ever around, and they decided to take the car because it did not seem to belong to anyone.

The juveniles told police they found a key that started the car in the glove box. The male suspect was also charged with driving without a license and an expired tag.

According to the report, the three girls were laughing and upbeat about their arrest on the drive to the juvenile detention center.

However, once at the juvenile center, one of the girls indicated she might hurt herself and was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital under the Baker Act.

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