MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County Sheriff's Deputies say they've arrested one person and are searching for another in connection to a spree of car burglaries and thefts.
Deputies say last Thursday, they tried to stop a white SUV with Pennsylvania tags in Mexico Beach. They say the vehicle took off into Gulf County, but was seen coming back into Bay County a short time later. They say the driver drove into a neighborhood when deputies tired to stop it again. A few minutes later, they say they found the SUV abandoned on Ocean View Drive. Deputies say the SUV turned out to be stolen from Collier County, Florida.
Deputies say they found a woman sitting nearby who didn't live in the neighborhood and looked upset and nervous. They say at first she denied any involvement with the stolen SUV, but they found a wallet belonging to Jerzey Russ, 17, of Port St. Joe, on her. She told them Russ picked her up earlier that day in the vehicle and told her it was stolen. She claims he then picked up two other women. She said when deputies started chasing them, Russ and the two women took off on foot and she didn't know where they went.
Deputies say they found out Russ is wanted in Gulf County for grand theft of an automobile and has no driver's license.
The woman then told deputies another man was also in the vehicle, but she only knew him as Rueben.
Deputies say a truck was reported stolen early last Thursday morning in Mexico Beach. The owner said there was a gun in the truck. Deputies say in that area, there were nine car burglaries of unlocked vehicles. Reports of flashlights, earbuds, purses, a cellphone, and lottery tickets were stolen.
The owner of the stolen truck was able to log into his vehicle's GPS and found it was in the woods near North Garrison Avenue and Avenue A in Port St. Joe. The Gulf County Sheriff's Office was notified and responded to the area.
Gulf County Sheriff's Deputies say they found a man and a woman in the area. The man was identified as Ruben Vasquez and the woman as Emily Bonn. Both are wanted in Collier County on charges.
Deputies say Bonn told them Vasquez, Russ, and herself had come to Bay County in a stolen SUV the day before. She said when they came to Mexico Beach around midnight, there were several other people in the car with them.
Bonn claims one of the women in the car asked if she could drive and was driving when they were chased by Bay County Sheriff's Deputies the first time. She says Russ told the woman to drive into the neighborhood and Vasquez asked if he "was ready" and the guys left the vehicle and walked away. She also claims the woman then abandoned the SUV on Ocean View Drive.
Bonn says she caught a ride back to Port St. Joe to where she was staying with Vasquez and Russ. She says the men came to the place in the morning, telling her they had another vehicle and slept in it overnight. Bonn and Vasquez were returning to the stolen truck when deputies had found them.
Deputies say they have security video of who they believe are Russ and Vasquez checking car door handles in Mexico Beach.
Russ is now wanted in Bay County for burglary of a conveyance, attempted grand theft auto, and grand theft of a firearm.
Vasquez is being held in the Gulf County Jail for charges out of Collier County and burglary of a conveyance, attempted grand theft auto, and grand theft of a firearm out of Bay County.
Deputies ask if you see Russ, call the Bay County Sheriff's Office at 747-4700 or Crime Stoppers 785-TIPS.
Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.