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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Ocala woman arrested for stealing man’s vehicle, cellphone

A 23-year-old Ocala woman was arrested over the weekend after she was accused of stealing a man’s vehicle and cellphone.

On Saturday, February 4, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to the 2100 block of SE 52nd Court in Ocala in reference to the theft of a vehicle.

Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with the male victim who advised that he had met a woman at a local 7-Eleven convenience store on Friday night. The woman was identified in the MCSO report as Bria Ja’Niya Watkins.

Bria Ja’Niya Watkins
Bria Ja’Niya Watkins

The victim advised that he brought Watkins back to his camper with the understanding that she would clean his laundry in exchange for allowing her to spend the night. When the victim woke up on Saturday morning at around 10 a.m., he stated that Watkins was no longer at the location and his Hyundai vehicle had been stolen, according to the MCSO report.

On Saturday, shortly after 7:15 p.m., an MCSO deputy responded to the 1900 block of W Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala in reference to the Ocala Police Department locating the victim’s vehicle. When the deputy arrived on scene, an OPD officer advised that a traffic stop of the vehicle was conducted and there were two occupants inside: Watkins (driver) and a male passenger.

The male passenger informed the deputy that he was unaware that the vehicle was stolen, and he claimed to have never seen Watkins with the vehicle prior to Saturday. According to the passenger, Watkins had told him that she was borrowing the vehicle from the victim.

The deputy made contact with Watkins. After being read her Miranda rights, Watkins confirmed that she was at the victim’s residence the previous night. She told the deputy that after the victim fell asleep, he “told her in her head” that she could borrow the vehicle, according to the MCSO report.

Watkins admitted that the victim “did not tell her with his mouth” that she could take the vehicle. She advised that she left the victim’s residence with the vehicle earlier in the morning. In the MCSO report, the deputy noted that Watkins did not want to provide any further information regarding the incident.

The victim notified the sheriff’s office that his cellphone was also missing. He stated that it was on the nightstand near his bed when he fell asleep, and it was gone when he woke up.

The victim provided a description of his cellphone and it was located on the driver’s seat of the recovered vehicle. He also provided a description of the female suspect and the MCSO report indicated that his description matched Watkins.

Watkins was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where she is currently being held on $2,500 bond. She is facing a felony charge for grand theft of a motor vehicle and a misdemeanor charge for first degree petit theft (over $100 but less than $300).

A court date has been scheduled at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15, according to jail records.