POLK COUNTY, Fla.-- At approximately 6:00 a.m. this morning a 56-year-old Lakeland woman pulled over into a parking lot near Wabash Avenue and Parker Street because she had spilled a drink. She was then confronted by three young black men who took her car—a 2002 blue Ford Escape— and her cell phone by force.
The woman walked home and reported the crime. PCSO received the call at 6:32 a.m. The woman was pistol whipped, had a gun pointed at her, and fought her attackers; she was checked out by EMS (she had minor injuries from being forced to the ground) and she is in good condition.
While detectives were investigating the carjacking, the Florida Highway Patrol initiated and attempted a traffic stop on the Escape at approximately 9:00 a.m. The vehicle fled the attempted traffic stop onto the Polk Parkway (eastern section in the Auburndale area). FHP did not initiate a pursuit because at the time there were only traffic charges. Shortly thereafter, FHP found the vehicle abandoned on Old Dixie Highway a few hundred yards west of the Polk Parkway.
PCSO was called to assist in locating the five young black male suspects. A PCSO helicopter found three of the five suspects in a field near Old Dixie and the Parkway and directed ground units to their location. Two 18-year-olds and a 16-year-old were taken into custody—charges are pending investigation on the three. Two other suspects are at large. Deputies discovered from a witness that two young black males received a ride from the area to the Main St. and Combee Rd. area. PCSO deputies also searched this area with negative results.
The Lakeland Police Department is also investigating a carjacking that occurred in their jurisdiction—inquires related to that investigation should be made to LPD. The two cases do appear to be related, however. The license tags on the involved vehicles appear to have been switched (sometime after the carjacking occurred that we are investigating and when the same vehicle—the Ford Escape—was located on Old Dixie Highway).