Detectives: young burglars preyed on neighbors - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Detectives: young burglars preyed on neighbors

By Chuck Weber email

WEST OF LANTANA, FL (WFLX)-Detectives say a West Lantana burglary ring they've taken down, consisted primarily of underage teenagers, as young as 13. The investigators working the case also say the group hit homes in their own neighborhoods and worked in broad daylight.

"They're walking down the street with laptops, flat screen TV's, hiding them in the bushes," exclaimed Palm Beach County Sheriff's Detective Phil DiMola. "Older kids with the cars come back later and get it."

DiMola and Sgt. Tom Gendreau said the two adults and five juveniles just arrested were responsible for at least 15 home burglaries in the Concept Homes communities of Indian Pines, Chestnut Hill, and Brentwood Estates, all off Lantana Road.

Friday morning 23-year old Stu Gabriel and 18-year old Junior Charles made their first court appearances in adult court. The five underage teens were to face a juvenile court judge.

"They're burglarizing their own neighbors," said Sgt. Gendreau. And that sometimes made catching the culprits more difficult. "They belong there," explained Gendreau. "When we stop them, they belong where they're at."

Frances Bell, who lives across the street from where one of the burglaries took place, said she's glad deputies made the arrests. But she's disturbed at the young ages of the suspects. "That's bad, because when they're so young and they get involved, it's hard to really straighten out," said Bell.

Ann Yeung's 23-year old daughter at home when three young men broke into her house. "She had her car outside, she's inside her house," said an exasperated Yeung. "They still went in. I can't believe that."

The arrest report says the young men first knocked on the door. When no one answered, they broke out a back window. Yeung's daughter hid in the closet terrified.

Yeung says her daughter is so upset, she has yet to return home.

Gabriel is charged with the break-in at Yeung's residence.

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