PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Monday night, Punta Gorda Police arrested two 17-year-olds for the August 10, 2010 burglary of the Church of the Nazarene, 512 Allen Street, Punta Gorda. WINK News is not naming the teens because they are minors.
On August 10, 2010 at approximately 6:11 A.M. officers responded to 516 Allen Street for a suspicious person and vehicle near the residence. Contact was made with the caller, Bobby Jean Peralta and her son. Ms. Peralta stated she was awakened by her son who stated he saw a male in the front yard near his mother's vehicle. The minor stated he saw the male run from behind his mother's car toward a dark SUV parked in front of 512 Allen Street at the Church of the Nazarene.
Officers searched the area and located two broken windows on two of the exterior doors of the church. Officers entered the church and did not locate any persons inside the church. Once inside the church, officers observed it appeared as if several pieces of electronic equipment had been pulled from the ceilings. Exposed wires and insulation were seen hanging from the ceiling. The Pastor of the church, John Denby, was contacted and responded to the scene. An inventory of the church identified several items missing, to include: video projectors, two computers with monitors, a grey office safe, twelve packs of frozen meat, a five disc CD changer, and three stereo speakers, one of which was white and wedge shaped. The total value of stolen items taken from the church was over $2,000 dollars and the damage to the church was over $1,000 dollars.
After the initial investigation was complete and crime scene processed, J. Denby later notified police that he received a phone call from an anonymous male stating he was approached by another male wanting to sell some property. The anonymous male stated he believed the items belonged to the church so he bought them with the intent to give them back. Later in the day, J. Denby received a call from the Seventh Day Adventist Church stating someone had dropped off some of the stolen merchandise at their church.
The items dropped off at the Seventh Day Adventist Church were items reported stolen earlier in the day and additional items that had not been discovered stolen yet. Two computers and monitors and two projectors that were stolen were among the items left at the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Also, two guitars, a guitar amplifier, and a set of computer speakers that were not noticed during the initial inventory were also returned.
On August 21, 2010, a Punta Gorda Police Officer spoke with a male juvenile who mentioned the burglary. The juvenile stated two male juvenile friends of his told him they committed the burglary along with a female juvenile. At the time of this release, the other male suspect and the female suspect are not being identified as they are juveniles and have not yet been arrested.
Detectives went to the residence of the female juvenile, who was later determined to be incarcerated at the Charlotte County Jail on other charges. Contact was made with her mother who gave consent to search the residence. While in the home, the mother pointed out items that she did not recognize and stated they were brought in by a minor and the other male juvenile identified as a suspect in the burglary. Some of the items were items reported as stolen from the church including the white wedge shaped speaker, two stereos, a Brinks lock box (safe), and a Lorcin .380 pistol.
The female juvenile was interviewed at the Charlotte County Jail and stated that a minor and the other juvenile male were at her home and they decided to go do a "lick", slang for burglary. She stated they left and came back hours later accompanied by the minor. The female stated that the minor drove them to her home in a large, dark blue SUV with the items stolen from the church. It should be noted that the minor was the "witness" who originally reported the incident and who gave interviews to multiple news outlets criticizing the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office response to the incident.
The minor was interviewed and stated he, the other juvenile male, and the other minor were at the juvenile female's home when they planned the burglary of the church. The three males then burglarized the church. The minor stated they loaded the items into the minors mother's vehicle and took the items to female juvenile's home. The minor was placed under arrest for the offenses of Burglary, Grand Theft, and Vandalism (all felonies) and transported to the Charlotte County Jail for processing.
Detectives then interviewed the other minor who stated he took part in the burglary along with his friend and other juvenile male. The minor was placed under arrest for the offenses of Burglary, Grand Theft, and Vandalism (all felonies) and transported to the Charlotte County Jail for processing.