Auto Theft Task Force

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
-Patrol Operations Bureau

St. Petersburg Police Department

Tampa Police Department

During a joint news conference St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, Tampa Police Department Chief Eric Ward, and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the results to date of a joint initiative created to address a regional increase in the number of auto thefts.

The joint news conference was held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2015.

The news conference was held at the Sheriff’s Administration Building located at 10750 Ulmerton Road in Largo.

In an effort to tackle a substantial increase in the number of auto thefts in the region, the St. Petersburg Police Department, Tampa Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office joined forces and formed a regional Auto Theft Task Force.

The regional effort began on August 14, 2015.

During the first five weeks, the Auto Theft Task Force netted a total of 64 arrests of which 36 were adult and 28 were juvenile offenders.  Also during this time frame, one juvenile offender was arrested twice by the Task Force.

The suspects were arrested for various crimes for a total of 171 charges to include 37 for grand theft auto, 19 for fleeing and eluding, 19 for resisting arrest without violence, 12 for conveyance burglaries, 11 for driving while license suspended or revoked, and multiple others.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway who opened up the news conference by providing some background as to the need for the creation of the task force, stated, "We recognize that although our jurisdictions are defined by geographical boundaries, crime is not.  In order to address this type of crime pattern and fight the rising number of auto thefts more effectively, we recognize that there is a need for an ongoing, collective enforcement effort."

Over the first six months of this year, all three jurisdictions reported seeing an increase in motor vehicle thefts.  When January to June 2014 numbers were compared to January to June 2015 figures, the St. Petersburg Police Department reported a 23% increase; the Tampa Police Department a 47.4% increase and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office a 31% increase.

Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward, who during the news conference provided remarks about the problem and the impact of the work of the Task Force in Tampa Police’s jurisdiction, also commented on the benefits of a regional approach, “The fact that our law enforcement agencies are effectively and aggressively working together is good news for the citizens of Tampa Bay, and bad news for criminals,’’ said Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward.  “We recognized that we had a problem that spanned the Tampa Bay area, so we created a solution that did the same.  When you combine a good plan, a collaborative approach, and solid police work – that’s a powerful combination.”

The Task Force additionally reported that a majority of the stolen vehicles were left unlocked.

“This, in and of itself, should send a powerful message to residents on both sides of the Bay that they hold the key to protecting their vehicles by simply locking their car doors,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who during the news conference presented an overview of the work of the Task Force and the overall results to this point.

“I am certainly pleased with the partnership and success of the Task Force,” added the Sheriff, “but I assure you that our combined efforts do not end here and that we continue to seek out and arrest the individuals who engage in this type of criminal activity.”  

Today's press conference can be viewed on our YouTube page here:

Posted by Friday, September 25, 2015 2:03:00 PM Categories: General News

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