A newly released video shows how detectives were able to track and arrest three teenagers believed to be linked to 46 high-end auto thefts throughout Palm Beach County.
During a months-long investigation, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office detectives tracked a stolen car they believed was driven by car thieves looking to steal expensive vehicles across the county.
The video was taken by a PBSO helicopter watching the car as three teens looking for their next target are apparently unaware the chopper was recording their every move.
Detectives say that car, a Chrysler 300, was driven by thieves responsible for millions of dollars worth of car thefts in South Florida in three months.
Agents from PBSO, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the Boca Raton Police Department worked collaboratively to investigate a high-end auto theft ring operating in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, records state.
Gregory Yearty Jr, 17, of Fort Lauderdale, Arthur Morgan, 17, of Lauderhill, and Daron Thurston, 16, of West Palm Beach were arrested by PBSO and are accused of being behind the ring.
The auto-theft ring
The thefts primarily occurred in affluent neighborhoods in central and south Palm Beach County. The Chrysler 300, stolen in Miami and worth $35,000, was seen during the thefts with four to five people inside, according to an arrest report.
The stolen vehicles had key fobs left inside by their owners a majority of the time. The thieves would go inside a garage, even sometimes enter the home, and steal vehicles. The Chrysler 300 was captured on surveillance video following the stolen cars. Detectives said these thefts showed a “level of organization and planning beyond mere crimes of opportunity.”
One victim reportedly had a Mercedes 550S and Porsche stolen from their driveway overnight in Wellington. Four vehicles, a Porsche Macan, Audi A-8, Mercedes 550S, and Mercedes C300, were stolen overnight on Feb. 13 inside the Polo Club neighborhood.
This map shows 18 of the 46 thefts the teens are believed to be linked to. PBSO said they are working through investigative means to charge them with all of the crimes.
Four days later, Boca Raton Police responded to the Broken Sound neighborhood when a neighbor reported spotting a male get out of the Chrysler 300 and into his neighbor’s Jaguar. The suspect jumped out of the Jaguar when he saw he was being watched.
About three hours after that incident, officers responded to the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club to two cars being stolen from homes there. Surveillance video from the neighborhood captured the Chrysler 300 again.
Two of the suspects were identified after they tried to steal a Mercedes out of a garage in Boca Raton and crashed it when the homeowner tried stopping them on March 4.
On March 7, investigators say they stole a Cadillac Escalade out of a garage in suburban Boca Raton. The car was tracked by covert surveillance to Miami-Dade County while the Chrysler 300 watched nearby. The Cadillac Escalade was recovered in the Fort Lauderdale driveway of Gregory Yearty, according to the arrest report.
Detectives say Yearty was identified as a member of the auto-theft ring. Arthur Morgan was identified as a driver of the Chrysler 300, the report states.
Detectives got word on March 10 the Chrysler 300 was heading towards Palm Beach County from Broward County and caught up with it as it exited the Florida Turnpike.
A PBSO helicopter captured the moments as the car “piggybacked” into gated areas in suburban southern Palm Beach County. Eventually, the car went into the Saturnia development and stopped in front of a home
“Black males in the garage,” a PBSO deputy can be heard on radio transmission saying. “Black males in the garage getting into a car.”
When the three were unable to take a Jaguar from the home, they move on but the chopper stays on the car.
“We are not letting them out of the development at this point,” a deputy said. PBSO began closing in on the car.
The teens continue driving around and stop in front of another home, checking the doors on a Porsche Cayenne and BMW but find the vehicles are locked. Agents move in on the Chrysler 300 and it takes off, driving through a yard.
“Don't follow, Eagle’s got it,” a PBSO agent tells deputies over the radio.
The teens ditch the car and run along a canal bank. They try hiding in a wooded area but the PBSO helicopter keeps a watchful eye on them.
They run into swamplands next to the canal, trying to conceal themselves in 10-foot high scrubs, the report states.
“They’re not giving up, they’re swimming,” a deputy said.
The teens get into the alligator-infested water but turn back to the swampland. Within a few minutes, deputies get to the boys and place them under arrest.
“This was boots on the pavement and good old-fashioned police work, all operational,” a spokesperson for PBSO told WPTV.
The three are facing several burglary and grand theft charges. The state attorney’s office is now charging them as adults.
Records show they have an extensive criminal history. One has thirteen arrests.