Two juveniles were arrested last week and charged with stealing the police cruiser of Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent.
Vincent’s vehicle was stolen from the driveway of his St. Petersburg home in the early morning hours of Monday, November 23.
The two teenagers, one 16 and one 15, reportedly ransacked Vincent’s wife’s car in their driveway and discovered the key to the police car.
The cruiser, an unmarked Dodge Charger, was recovered around 9:30 a.m. of the same day on Tanglewood Dr. NE, only minutes away from the chief’s home.
While some local news outlets reported that a laptop was stolen, City Manager Jim O’Reilly said that nothing was taken from the police vehicle. The two suspects were later identified by fingerprints left in the cruiser.
According to O’Reilly, it is regular practice to take home the police vehicles.
“We have a take-home policy,” O’Reilly said. “They can use the car to stop at the grocery store on their way home, but there are restrictions. You can’t just go joy riding in it, or put alcohol in it, but taking it home is standard policy.”
O’Reilly stated in a previous interview that Chief Vincent has taken full responsibility for the incident and may face disciplinary action, anything from a letter of reprimand to a short suspension.
The vehicle is now back in use with the police department.
The city recently bought several more new Dodge Chargers that were retrofitted to include police upgrades for the department.
The Dodge Chargers, which are chosen by the Gulfport Police Department due to their various performance advantages, cost about $23,000 each. The cars are also upgraded with the necessary equipment for a police car, which costs an additional $14,000, according to recent city memos, totaling to about $37,000 for the police car.