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Sheriff: Polk car burglaries solved after teen accidentally shot himself with stolen gun

The 14-year-old was taken to the hospital but is expected to be OK.

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says it solved a string of recent Lakeland-area car burglaries after a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot himself with a gun that had been stolen from one of the cars.

Investigators say he was one of three boys, all between the ages of 14 and 16, who burglarized six cars early Tuesday morning within the Cherry Lane Estates neighborhood in Medulla.

Detectives got a break in the case just after 9 p.m. Wednesday when authorities were dispatched to a shooting in the Medulla Oaks neighborhood off Old Road 37. The sheriff's office said the one boy had accidentally shot himself in the arm at one of the other teen's homes while all three were present.

The wounded 14-year-old was taken to a hospital in Tampa.

The sheriff's office said all three teens would be charged with armed burglary, burglary of a conveyance, grand theft of a firearm, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft, possession of a firearm by a juvenile, possession of personal identification and petit theft.

Authorities say a search of the home where the shooting happened turned up a woman's Michael Kors wallet, her ID, a debit card belonging to another woman and ammunition.

"These items had been reported stolen during the burglaries within Cherry Lane Estates, which is adjacent to the Medulla Oaks neighborhood," the sheriff's office said.

Investigators say the boy who lived at the home showed them where two stolen handguns had been hidden in the nearby woods.

The two boys who were not hurt were taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Bartow. The other will be taken there when he is released from the hospital.

“Most car burglaries occur to vehicles that are left unlocked, and as a law enforcement officer, that is very frustrating," Sheriff Grady Judd wrote in a statement. "Even more frustrating is when a firearm is stolen from an unlocked vehicle. Fortunately, the boy should have a full recovery, and hopefully everyone involved has learned some valuable lessons here.”

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