Amid vehicle theft cluster, three Dover juveniles arrested

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DOVER — Three 15-year-old males were arrested Wednesday in connection with a stolen vehicle, part of a recent string of similar incidents in the east and west parts of the city, Dover police said.

The teens were detained after a stolen 2017 Hyundai Sonata they were traveling in crashed into a parked vehicle in the Cannon Mills neighborhood, Sgt. Mark Hoffman said. They fled on foot but were apprehended without incident.

The sequence began at 5:41 a.m., police said, when an officer was called to a home in the 100 block of Thames Drive for a stolen-vehicle report. The officer then shared information about the incident via police radio.

A second officer, in the area of Del. 8 and Dover High Drive, spotted the vehicle traveling west, and a brief pursuit ensued before the arrests were made, Sgt. Hoffman said.

The youths were expected to be charged with receiving stolen property, second-degree conspiracy and resisting arrest. The driver was facing additional counts of reckless driving and disregarding a police officer’s signal. Arrest warrants were approved, Sgt. Hoffman said, and arraignments were pending Wednesday morning.

Bond information was unavailable, and the custody of the suspects was also pending.

He said it is unknown whether the juveniles were involved in previous stolen-vehicle incidents, which are still being investigated.

On Sunday, Dover police issued an alert to Hyundai Sonata and Elantra owners about recent thefts and attempted thefts in the area. The alert said there had been several such vehicles of 2015-17 model years either stolen or damaged in the past seven to 10 days.

Further, in an incident June 28, authorities said a stolen Hyundai crashed into a pole at Silver Lake Park before suspects fled.

Through social media, police released two images of suspects fleeing the crash scene, along with a third showing the damaged interior of another car.

As of Wednesday, police said, four stolen vehicles and two attempted thefts have been reported over the last two weeks. Those stolen have all been recovered.

Two of the stolen cars were locked at the time of the thefts, but the majority had been left unsecured, Sgt. Hoffman said, adding that the events occurred at all times of the day.

Said Sgt. Hoffman of the surge, “We don’t see vehicle thefts occur in clusters like this too often. When they do, it usually correlates with a cluster of thefts from unsecured vehicles (valuables, loose change, etc.), but the suspects find a key/key fob during those incidents.”

While police said the method of “hot-wiring” was used, they did not disclose how that was done, in an effort to prevent additional thefts.

Anyone with information is asked to call 302-736-7130. Callers may remain anonymous. Tips may also be submitted via Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333 or here; a cash reward is possible for information leading to an arrest.

Police issued tips to prevent these thefts, including parking in a garage, parking in well-lit areas, locking vehicles and garage doors, and not leaving keys in vehicles.