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Police chase is short, suspect shorter

The driver of a stolen car was 12, her three passengers 14, police say. All face charges.

By ANGELA MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


TAMPA -- A brazen car thief led officers on a chase Friday night that ended with the stolen 2000 Dodge Intrepid smashed into a wall.

The theft and chase were pretty commonplace, especially for summer, officials said. The adolescent thief was not. At 12 years old, she could barely see over the steering wheel, and her three 14-year-old friends were still some time away from their learners' permits.

The girl has been charged with grand theft auto, a felony, and opposing an officer without violence, a misdemeanor. Her three friends were charged with opposing an officer, because they ran away from the crash. The Times is not publishing the girls' names because of their ages.

All four girls live in Sulphur Springs, said Sgt. Rod Reder, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He said doesn't know what prompted them to take the car from the parking lot of the Sheraton Points Hotel at Hillsborough Avenue and Orient Road.

"It's scary enough to think about a 12-year-old driving a car at all," Reder said. "She could've easily hitsomebody."

Reder said Deputy Stewart Bell spotted the Intrepid at Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street and noticed how young the driver and her friends appeared. He ran the car's license tag; it had been reported stolen by Seminole Indian police. When Bell tried to pull the car over, the driver tried to outrun him.

Eventually, the girl drove the car into a wall at 1515 E 127th Ave. Bell and other deputies caught the girls on foot and took them to juvenile assessment centers.

- Angela Moore can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or amoore@sptimes.com

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