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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wood, Donna

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 4/20/2011 

 Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Arrest 3 Juveniles in Church Burglary 


Sometime between 3:00 pm, on Sunday, April 17, 2011, and 8:00 pm, on Monday, April 18, 2011, unknown suspects forced open the north side double doors of the New Faith Dimensional Church located at 838 Waneta Ave in Lakeland.

Once inside, the suspects went throughout the building ransacking property and intentionally damaged and destroyed numerous books and documents in the church office.  The suspects also “tagged” the interior of the church with gang graffiti and broke windows. The suspects attempted to start fires inside the church.  The State Fire Marshall’s Office is investigating the arson related vandalism.   This Burglary incident was the sixth similar incident at this location.

Through their investigation, PCSO detectives learned that three juveniles were responsible for all six burglaries, and had vandalized the same church during the months of February and March (see attached affidavits), damaging the PA system, discharging a fire extinguisher, and stealing food, a dvd player, stereo, electric guitar, keyboard, and speakers.

“These juveniles caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage and caused wrenching heart ache by dedicated church workers and hard-working parishioners.  These selfish delinquents know better.  They deserve punishment and they should pay back every penny of theft and destruction they caused and more.”  -- Grady Judd

The following juveniles were arrested April 19, 2011, and booked into the JAC:

14-year-old Oscar Salazar, DOB 10-11-96, 822 Wasena Avenue, Lakeland, who admitted to going into the church. Oscar Salazar is charged with 5 counts of Burglary of a Structure (F-3), 3 counts of Criminal Mischief to a Church/Place of Worship (F-3), Grand Theft (F-3), Grand Theft of Fire Extinguisher (F-3), Preventing Extinguishment of Fire (F-3), and Petit Theft (M-1).  

10-year-old Eduardo Salazar, DOB 06-13-00, 822 Wasena Avenue, Lakeland, who also confessed to the Burglary.  (Eduardo is Oscar’s younger brother.) Eduardo Salazar is charged with Burglary of a Structure (F-3), and Criminal Mischief to a Church/Place of Worship (F-3).

12-year-old Salvador Cruz, DOB 05-26-98, 819 Davis Avenue, Lakeland, who confessed to all six Burglaries. Salvador Cruz is charged with 6 counts of Burglary of a Structure (F-3), 3 counts of Criminal Mischief to a Church/Place of Worship (F-3), Grand Theft (F-3), Grand Theft of Fire Extinguisher (F-3), Preventing Extinguishment of Fire (F-3), Petit Theft (M-1).

Under Florida State Statute 741.24 “Civil action against parents; willful destruction or theft of property by minor,” the parents of these suspects can be held civically liable for the church damages.

FSS 741.24 (1) Any municipal corporation, county, school district, or department of Florida; any person, partnership, corporation, or association; or any religious organization, whether incorporated or unincorporated, shall be entitled to recover damages in an appropriate action at law, in a court of competent jurisdiction, from the parents of any minor under the age of 18 years, living with the parents, who maliciously or willfully destroys or steals property, real, personal, or mixed, belonging to such municipal corporation, county, school district, department of the state, person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization.  (2)  The recovery shall be limited to the actual damages in addition to taxable court costs.

All three suspects were arrested and transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Bartow on April 19, 2011.

In addition to the church Burglaries, these same three juveniles were involved yesterday, with destructive vandalism to a truck.

At approximately 8:00 pm, on April 18th, 60-year-old Hugh Williams, was driving his blue 2000 Ford F-450 tow truck on Camilia Circle, Lakeland,  when he observed a group of Hispanic male juveniles. Two of the juveniles laid down on the roadway in front of his truck.   As he got closer, they got up and went to the shoulder of the roadway.  He slowed down and asked them what the problem was. One of the juveniles asked him for a dollar. He told the juvenile no, and then heard a loud bang at the back of his truck.  The juveniles fled on foot.

Williams drove out of the area, checked his truck, and found a large dent. Deputies conducted a search of the crime scene and found a large piece of concrete block with transfer paint on it which matched Williams’ truck.  Deputies determined that 14-year-old Oscar Salazar threw the piece of block.  Oscar will be charged with Throwing a Deadly Missile into an Occupied Vehicle later this morning, Wednesday, April 20, 2011.