Driver injured in crash with stolen SUV; three teens captured

Published November 30 2017
Updated November 30 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — A driver was injured Thursday when police said a stolen sport-utility vehicle carrying four teens smashed into their vehicle.

Three of the teens — a 17-year-old boy and two girls, ages 15 and 16 — were quickly captured and now face charges, according to St. Petersburg police. A fourth teen got away. The Tampa Bay Times is not identifying them because of their ages.

TAMPA BAY TIMES SPECIAL REPORT: HOW TEENS ARE DRIVING PINELLAS COUNTY’S CAR THEFT EPIDEMIC

HOT WHEELS: Kids are driving Pinellas County’s car-theft epidemic. It’s a dangerous — sometimes deadly — game.

THE CHASE: Cops, teen car thieves and a dangerous game

WRONG WAY: At 15, Isaiah Battle was the county’s No. 1 car thief. He had every reason to stop.

The incident took place at about 5:15 p.m. at the intersection of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue N. Police said the stolen SUV was headed south on 33rd Street. Then it crashed into a Nissan heading east on Fifth Avenue N.

The four teens quickly tired to flee the scene, police said. Nearby construction workers helped officers corral the three who were caught. The fourth teen, an unidentified boy, escaped. All three teens were arrested on a charge of grand theft auto and could face more charges, police said.

The driver of the Nissan, who was not identified by police, was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

This is the latest injury to result from Pinellas County’s epidemic of juvenile auto theft. The Times series "Hot Wheels" has examined the dangers, scope and fallout of the problem, which officials are struggling to deal with.

After three girls died in a stolen Honda Accord in March 2016, reporters analyzed 18 months of police records, interviewed teen car thieves and attended dozens of court hearings.

The Times findings: Juveniles behind the wheel of stolen cars crash every four days in Pinellas. Police have arrested more juveniles for grand theft auto than any other county in Florida and virtually anywhere else in the country. The death toll from the problem has now reached eight teens in the last two years. An August crash involving a stolen SUV left three teen boys dead.

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