LARGO — An 18-year-old is accused of stealing a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition from the cruiser of a Pinellas sheriff's homicide detective on Saturday, according to Largo police.
Two newspaper carriers spotted Devon Ashton Breaziel, 18, taking a black duffle bag out of the back of the cruiser just before 5 a.m., according to arrest records.
Inside the bag was a loaded AR-15 and several loaded magazines. Breaziel also stole a Taser, a bullet-resistant vest and a helmet, Largo police said.
Breaziel ran from the cruiser, police said, which was parked at the Largo home of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Detective Jerry Creaser.
A Largo police officer driving on Starkey Road saw Breaziel running across the road and trying to jump over the fence of a senior mobile home park. He arrested Breaziel and recovered the rifle.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Thursday that the unmarked cruiser was unlocked but said that wasn't the fault of Creaser, 43. The detective insisted he had locked the cruiser. A mechanic later found that the remote to lock the car wasn't working properly, the sheriff said. The fob chirps as if the car is locked, Gualtieri said, but the doors didn't actually lock.
The bigger issue, the sheriff said, is that a 17-year veteran of the agency had not secured his rifle in an agency-issued lock box inside the vehicle.
"Of course it's concerning that somebody gets a weapon like that in their hands," Gualtieri said. "That's why we took the steps to install ... a lock box."
The sheriff said there will be an internal investigation of this incident.
Breaziel faces charges of armed burglary, grand theft, resisting a law enforcement officer and possession of burglary tools. Largo officers said they found a screwdriver and pair of yellow and black gloves in his pants. He was being held Thursday in the Pinellas County jail in lieu of $160,150 bail.
Contact Kathryn Varn at email@example.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.