Car thief goes for test drive, steals car, drives off with gas - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Car thief goes for test drive, steals car and drives off with gas

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GRAND MEADOW, Minn. (KTTC) -- A small car dealership began business Friday by having a car stolen from their property. The thief used a test drive to take off with the vehicle, but that isn't where the story ends.

A typical Friday of business for Rubes Auto in Grand Meadow turned out to be anything but.

A person showed up to the door, expressed interest in a 1999 Grand Am and asked to take it for a test drive.

"He happened to come at the right time, we were real busy around here," explained Garrick, a salesman with Rubes Auto. "He showed real interest in the car, he was acting like he wanted to buy the car."

The suspect came to Rubes Auto seemingly interested in a vehicle, asked for the keys and went on a test drive, but it was not until 15 minutes later where the situation became more complicated.

"I knew the car had no gas in it, so he got the keys and never came back," Garrick said. "I got a call from Spring Valley that says there was a gas-and-go in the car and I was like 'uh oh.'"

The driver, with a car very low on gas, drove east on Highway 16 to Spring Valley, where he stopped at a BP station for gas.

He decided not to pay, and drove off.

"We try to do our best to get a license plate, to get a vehicle description, a description of the person and which direction they went from our station," said Sue Fowler, co-owner of Fowler Oil Company, which is the BP station that reported the gas drive-off.

With the information gathered from the two scenes, the suspect was caught in Wadena County and faces charges of car theft and gas drive off, but could this incident have been stopped sooner?

"First of all you make sure they have a valid drivers license, you check that before they even leave," said Garrick. "That, and a photocopy of their ID. But, it was gone more than right after I called the police they already knew who it was."

A harsh lesson learned, but something Rubes Auto will be prepared for from this point on.

Larger dealerships have a salesman go with the interested driver on a test drive as well as make a copy of the drivers license for their records, which is something the smaller dealerships are starting to do to prevent events like this.

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