A veteran Indialantic police officer playing a hunch put an end to a dangerous joyride Tuesday night, capturing two teenagers who an hour or so earlier had stolen a red Jaguar.
The chase played out mostly on U.S. 1 after the pair stole the car in Merritt Island and headed south at speeds estimated at 70-80 mph. It ended on the front porch of a home in Indialantic after the teens lost control of the car while trying to elude police.
Indialantic Police Chief Mike Casey credited Sargent Scott Holstine, a 17-year member of the force, with locating the teens. “Everyone else had given up, figuring the teens were gone,” Casey said in an interview Thursday. “Scott knew that sometimes fugitives will lie low, staying still until its safe to move. He spotted them about a street over from where the car crashed. They didn’t attempt to run. He had them.”
Jennifer Hugus, on whose Palmetto Place front porch the Jaguar came to a halt, was inside eating dinner when the car broke through a fenced gate. It stopped inches from the front door.
“Huge, horrific, loud crash,” is how Hugus described the impact to a television station. “I heard no brakes. There was a car right here.”
The teens may be part of a local trend that has seen car thefts on the rise. Casey explained that a group known as the “Brown Team” – a nod to their ethnic diversity – “has hit Brevard hard.” The teens almost exclusively steal cars whose owners have left the vehicle unlocked and with a set of keys inside.
“When they’re done with the car, they’ll leave it someplace, then look for another car to steal,” Casey added.
The teenagers, ages 14 and 15, will likely face charges – and a repair bill for any damage that occurred from the crash, both to the house and to the luxury car. As customary for minors, the defendants’ names are being withheld.
According to Brevard County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Tod Goodyear, the Sheriff’s Office deployed a helicopter, which tracked the stolen car as it drove east across the Melbourne Causeway into Indialantic.
When deputies attempted to stop the pair, the teens instead attempted to outrun police. That backfired when the pair turned right on Riverside Drive, a winding road bordering the Indian River Lagoon that threads through a residential section of Indialantic.
Before losing control of the car at Hugus’ home, the teens collided with another vehicle on Route 192. When police saw the car on Hugus’ front porch, officers set up a five-block perimeter, going door-to-door in search of the teens.