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A 16-year-old captured on video breaking into a cop car and stealing an assault rifle in Pembroke Pines turned himself in Thursday, telling police he threw away the rifle and other stolen gear in different dumpsters.
Christopher Clarke showed up at the Hallandale Beach Police Department Thursday morning “after being urged to do so by family and friends” who saw his image plastered on TV. The department released video of the teen opening an Opa-locka police car parked in the Sunswept neighborhood and walking away with a rifle strapped to his back.
Pembroke Pines police say Clarke entered the unopened car and managed to get in the trunk as well. There were no signs of forced entry, said Capt. Al Xiques, a Pembroke Pines spokesman.
Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson, however, who has not named or disciplined the officer involved, said the AR 15 rifle was in a locked trunk that could not be accessed from the interior of the vehicle.
“You can’t get into the trunk from the inside of the car. You have to have a key,” said Dobson, who said the only keys were with the officer or at the police department. “The rifle was safely secured in the trunk. We’re treating him [the officer] as a victim. Nothing will be done until the investigation is complete.”
Pembroke Pines police put out surveillance video Wednesday that showed a young man opening the passenger side door of a police car parked at a home around Taft Street and 86th Avenue just before 3:30 that morning.
The clear video showed someone rifling through the car, using a flashlight, and then pulling out a police vest. The video also showed the person going through the trunk and walking away with a rifle.
On Wednesday, police called it a “brazen burglary,” and said they didn’t believe the person on the video was acting alone. Several other cars in the area also were broken into, and at least one more gun was stolen.
Among the items taken from the police car: a Taser, cartridges, tactical vest with police markings, a 16-round .45 caliber magazine and an AR-15 assault rifle with three fully loaded magazines.
On Thursday, police say Clarke, an 11th grader, showed up at the Hallandale Beach station with his mother and confessed.
“The defendant admitted to committing multiple vehicle burglaries that night to include the police vehicle,” an officer wrote in Clarke’s police report. “He admitted to being in possession of the stolen items to include the rifle. The defendant stated that he threw away the stolen items in different dumpsters but could not advise locations.”
Xiques said as of Thursday evening police were still trying to recover the gear.
“We are once again asking for the community to please contact the police and provide us with any information that could lead us to these weapons and where they may be as well as any associates or individuals that may have been involved in this crime, Xiques said in a video posted to YouTube.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Pembroke Pines Police Department at 954-431-2200 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).