Orlando police provided a valuable clue to help link a group of teens to a Polk County crime spree.
On March 18 at 3:07 a.m., the Orlando Police Department arrested three teens in a stolen car who are suspected in several business burglaries in their jurisdiction, which helped Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives solve a smash-and-grab burglary of an EZ Wireless store in Lakeland that occurred earlier that morning.
The Polk County burglary occurred at about 1:07 a.m., two hours prior to the Orlando burglary, at the 6635 South Florida Avenue cell phone store in Lakeland.
Security video showed the front glass door being shattered.
Five suspects took 30 replacement glass phone screens and eight cell phones that were there to be repaired. The total value of the stolen items was $4,000.
Cell phones recovered by Orlando police in the stolen car were determined to be those stolen from EZ Wireless. The car was stolen from a residence in Mulberry.
The suspects arrested in Orlando were identified as Javier Benito, 14, of Mulberry, Jarret Frederick, 16, of Nichols, and Joshua Deus, 16, of Bartow.
Through their investigation, PCSO detectives were able to identify one of the two remaining suspects as Ivan Hernandez, 15, of Mulberry.
PCSO detectives met with him at Mulberry High School and during an interview, he confessed to stealing the car and committing the EZ Wireless store burglary with the other suspects.
Efforts continue in order to identify the last suspect.
PCSO detectives charged all four teens with the following:
- Burglary-Structure/Damage (F-1)
- Grand Theft (F-3)
- Conspiracy Commit Burglary Structure (F-3)
- Conspiracy Commit Grand Theft (F-3)
- Possession of Burglary Tools With Intent To Use (F-3)
- Tampering with Physical Evidence (F-3)
“It’s maddening on two fronts. One because we’re talking about teenagers who are doing these very serious crimes. And maddening because they’re doing them over and over and over again and there’s really no serious punishment,” PCSO Spokesperson Brian Bruchey told WFLA.
Deus has a prior criminal history of 17 felonies which include armed burglary, theft of a firearm, felony battery on school employee, theft of LEO equipment from vehicle and more.
Benito has a prior criminal history of 10 felonies which include lewd and lascivious, conspiracy, possession of a weapon on school property, burglary and more.
Hernandez has prior felonies, including burglary and tampering with evidence.
Frederick has two prior felonies, both of which were burglaries, and two prior misdemeanor thefts.
“These teens were out committing serious crimes in two different counties, starting at one o’clock in the morning. As illustrated by their criminal histories, they’re definitely walking down the wrong path in life and their punishment needs to reflect that,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Deus, Hernandez and Frederick were taken to the Polk County Juvenile Assessment Center. Benito remains at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
If you have any information that could help identify and lead to the arrest of the fifth suspect, please call Detective O’Dell at 863-499-2400.