Car thief nabbed for second time, St. Petersburg police say

Carnell Eugene Butler, 18, of St. Petersburg
Carnell Eugene Butler, 18, of St. Petersburg
Published Oct. 9, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Carnell Eugene Butler managed to steal at least two cars from the Placido Bayou neighborhood this month, police said, but he didn't exactly make himself hard to find.

He abandoned the first car, investigators said, an Infiniti that police found on Oct. 4 near 13th Avenue S and 18th Street. He left some personal items in there, perhaps the most incriminating of which was a packet of court papers bearing his name. (Butler was on probation for stealing a car in June, according to police.)

At that point, investigators were fast on his trail. It was not especially difficult to follow.

Two days later, Oct. 6, a detective left a message for Butler, telling the 18-year-old St. Petersburg man to come to the station and pick up some items from a previous arrest.

Sure, why not. Butler set up a time to go down to headquarters.

That same day, a Hyundai Sonata went missing from another house in Placido Bayou.

When Butler arrived, he had the keys to the Sonata in his pocket. A detective "acted on a hunch," according to police, and set out on foot looking for the car. It was parked a block away.

Both of the stolen cars had been left unlocked by their owners, with the keys inside.

Officers said they later found a stolen bicycle at Butler's home.

He now faces two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, violation of probation and two counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.