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Boys, 14, charged in car theft

They're not even old enough to have a driver's license, but, according to sheriff's deputies, two 14-year-old boys already have compiled an impressive record on the road. The teens, arrested Monday for leading deputies on a wild chase in suburban Brandon, have admitted to stealing at least six other cars in the past three days, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. And one of the boys has been convicted of stealing four other cars within the past 12 months.

"That makes 10 that we know about," said Sheriff's Office Lt. Randy Latimer. The boys' names were not released because they are juveniles.

On Monday, Latimer said, the teens were arrested after leading deputies on a chase throughout Brandon in a stolen truck.

"They steal one car, joy-ride it around, abandon it and pick anther one up," Latimer said. "They move around a lot."

According to a Sheriff's Office report, the two teens were driving along U.S. 41 in a 1988 GMC truck Monday afternoon, when a sheriff's car began following to determine whether the vehicle was stolen. But as the cruiser pulled behind the truck, the boys took off.

Running red lights, dodging curbs and going against traffic on one-way streets, the boys lead deputies on a chase that took them over four major streets and highways at speeds of up to 75 mph. The boys werearrested when they slammed the truck into the deputies' cruiser on Causeway Boulevard. Deputy Joe Barbaris suffered a broken arm in the accident.

The driver of the car was charged with grand theft, two counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of burglary tools, eluding a police officer and several traffic charges, including not having a driver's license.

The other boy was charged with grand theft and possession of burglary tools. The pair were taken to the W.

T. Edwards Juvenile Detention Center after their arrests.

Latimer said the teens have told deputies where to find the other stolen cars, but not all have been located.

"Obviously, the juvenile system is not doing a good job at rehabilitation," said Latimer, who hopes the teen with the criminal record will be charged as an adult. "Auto theft is too serious a problem."

According to the most recent statistics, 2,863 cars were stolen in the first nine months of 1989, which represents an increase of 44 percent, said Sheriff's Capt. James Walker.

Latimer said he was especially concerned about the recklessness of the teens when caught. The car chase easily could have hurt others.

"They were going down the street in a high-speed missile," Latimer said. "But at 14, you don't fear anything."

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