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Boy charged with neighborhood's car burglaries

By LINDA GIBSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2001


BRANDON -- Bill Puckett's dog started barking early Wednesday, just after midnight, so he stepped outside to look around.

Puckett said he saw an 11-year-old boy trying to burglarize cars along Timberpond Drive, house by house.

"He was sitting in a neighbor's car when I caught up with him," the man said Wednesday night. "He told me bullies at school told him to pilfer cars, and if he didn't, they were going to beat him up"

Puckett said he grabbed the boy by his backpack, walked him back down the street and had his wife call police.

"Amazing. Eleven years old," he said. "It was a shock to us."

Police arrested the boy and charged him with six counts of armed burglary of a car, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and two counts of petty theft.

The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, allegedly had a stun gun stashed in his backpack. Stun guns deliver high-voltage shocks that can cause loss of balance, disorientation and loss of muscle control.

Puckett said he had never seen the boy before. It's a quiet, close-knit neighborhood where everybody knows everyone else, he said. He has lived there since 1985 with his family.

When he stepped outside to find out why Bailey, a long-haired miniature dachshund, was barking, he saw that one of the doors to his Ford Explorer was open. Nothing was missing.

He said he thinks the dog scared off the burglar before anything was taken.

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