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Stalled getaway car leads to arrests

Feb. 15, 2012 at 2:04 PM

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said a pair of alleged copper and tool thieves were arrested after they were forced to leave their stalled getaway car behind.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said the owner of a Port Charlotte stilt home called 911 at 12:51 p.m. Monday and said she had heard suspicious noises from under the home before seeing two men pushing an apparently dead car out of her driveway.

The woman told deputies the men took items out of the car's trunk and loaded them into another vehicle, which they used to drive away from the scene.

Deputies said Benjamin John Phillips Jr., 23, arrived while they were investigating the empty Buick Lesabre and he told them he had left it at the roadside because it broke down. Phillips and Benjamin Michael O'Neill, 22, were taken in for questioning and admitted to taking items from the home to sell as scrap.

The stolen items were recovered from their apartment, deputies said.

Both men were charged with burglary and grand theft and Phillips was also charged with a probation violation. Phillips was jailed in lieu of $5,500 bond and O'Neill's bond was set at $5,000.

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