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Florida Teens Charged in Construction Site Arsons

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  • Florida Teens Charged in Construction Site Arsons


    5 teens charged with burning toilets
    The teenagers are charged with felony arson and held in a detention center after several portable toilets were set afire.
    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 3, 2003


    SPRING HILL - The blazing potty caper has been solved.

    Nearly two weeks after portable toilets in Spring Hill were charred beyond use, five juveniles ages 14 to 17, are in hot water. The teens, whose names are being withheld because of their ages, are accused of setting fire to at least five portable toilets since June 20.

    Authorities had long suspected that the fires had been the work of teenage pranksters who were home on summer vacation.

    On Tuesday, they caught teens trying to ignite another Port-O-Potty, a Hernando County sheriff's report stated.

    While conducting surveillance in the area of Pristine Place around 3 a.m., a detective noticed a car full of youths driving with its lights off near a construction site, a report said. One week earlier, the Sheriff's Office had received two reports of portable toilet fires in the area near the construction site.

    When the unmarked unit attempted to take a closer look, the Mitsubishi Lancer took off. As the detective tailed the teens at a distance, he saw two boys jump out of the car and run, the report said.

    At Hanging Moss Loop and Misty View Court, the detective pulled the car over. Inside were two girls and a boy.

    The teens told authorities that they moved a brown Cliff's Port-O-Potty into the road to light it. Authorities discovered several pieces of newspaper stuffed inside and hanging outside. A plastic cap from an aerosol can lay on the ground nearby.

    State Fire Marshal Lt. Rex Hinkle determined that the earlier fires had been set by spraying a flammable accelerant on toilet paper - and sometimes newspaper - and throwing both the can and the papers back into the portable toilet, which is worth about $450.

    As a sheriff's deputy questioned the three at the scene, one teen's cellular phone rang. The deputy asked for permission and then answered it. On the other end was one of the boys who had jumped out of the car and fled minutes earlier.

    The deputy advised him to return to the scene for "show and tell," a report stated.

    Several phone calls later, the boy agreed to return with his mother, a report said.

    The five juveniles were charged with one count of felony arson and were being held Wednesday at the Juvenile Detention Center in Ocala.

    The investigation is continuing, sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joseph Paez said.

    - Duane Bourne covers law enforcement and emergency services in Hernando County and can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to [email protected]
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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