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A Florida teenager was taken into custody on March 7 in Polk County for allegedly breaking into a police vehicle and stealing items including a pump-action shotgun. The 17-year-old Winter Haven resident faces a long list of charges including felony counts of armed trespassing, grand theft and unarmed burglary. Police believe that the teen also burgled several other vehicles and a boat.

The teen allegedly used a stolen Ford SUV to drive to a Winter Haven residence where he broke the window of a Polk County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle in order to steal a shotgun and a bag containing rifle ammunition, a knife and medical supplies. He is also said to have taken a fire extinguisher and a flare kit from the deputy’s fishing boat. Deputies also claim to have found damage on a pickup truck and SUV parked nearby. Tools and a small amount of cash were allegedly taken from the vehicles.

Deputies discovered the Ford SUV in an orange grove less than two miles from the crime scene. They say that all of the vehicle’s windows had been broken and its seats slashed. When deputies arrived at the teen’s Cedro Court residence, he is said to have made a full and frank confession. He allegedly arranged to sell the stolen shotgun and rifle ammunition to an individual he met online.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys would likely advise individuals accused of committing theft and property crimes to remain silent when questioned by police and ask for a lawyer. Attorneys may make this suggestion with particular vigor if the evidence in the case seems to be overwhelming. This is because only prosecutors have the authority to reduce charges and penalties, and they may be less inclined to do so if the suspect has confessed and their success in court seems assured.