INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 48-year-old man suspected of stealing a sports utility vehicle from a car dealership and telling deputies he was taking the vehicle for a ‘test drive,’ was detained Friday.
The man – identified as James Donald Childers – told deputies he “thought he heard the salesman give him permission” to take the vehicle on a test drive, reports show. Childers said he took the vehicle to the home of a friend who is an auto mechanic because the SUV began to overheat, according to deputies.
Deputies arrested Childers, of the 7800 block of 93rd Court, on a charge of grand theft. Childers was held Tuesday at the Indian River County Jail without bond.
Childers has warrants out of St. Lucie County for grand theft, burglary and larceny, reports show.
Indian River County deputies responded to reports of a stolen vehicle about 2 p.m. Friday at Linus Cadillac of Vero Beach, 1401 U.S. 1. A car salesman told deputies a man, later identified as Childers, came to the business and asked about a used Chevrolet Tahoe.
The salesman went inside and brought out the keys to the Tahoe along with keys to a Cadillac STS, reports show. The salesman left the keys in both vehicles so Childers could compare the automobiles.
The salesman was about to walk away to turn off a third vehicle a few parking spots down, reports show. Then, he heard a clicking noise similar to a vehicle shifting gears and then the sound of a vehicle door shutting, deputies said.
The salesman saw Childers – who was in the driver’s seat of the Tahoe – drive off the dealership lot, reports show. The salesman said Childers never asked about a test drive and did not have permission to take the vehicle off the lot.
Patrol deputies found the stolen vehicle about an hour later in front of a home in the 2300 block of 2nd Street Southeast, in south county, reports show. Deputies saw Childers in the driver’s seat and detained him.
Deputies arrested Childers and took him to the county jail. Childers has an arraignment at 8:45 a.m. March 6, court records show.