There’s no harm in taking a test drive at a used car lot ... but doing so after-hours can get someone in trouble with the law.
Taking cars from a local business and driving them around in the dead of night is what one local man is accused of doing, according to the Somerset Police Department (SPD).
Steven Matthew Perry, 19, of Ky. 192, Somerset, was charged with numerous criminal counts including theft and burglary and arrested this week after a car he allegedly took from Fairway Auto Sales was found in the Memorial School parking lot on Langdon Street and traced back to an earlier such offense.
On Sunday, the staff of Fairway Auto Sales found their office had been burglarized and two vehicles in their inventory were missing.
Both of them were found close to the business near light 6 on South U.S. 27 — a Chrysler Sebring at the Memorial School, and a Ford Taurus in the parking lot of the Tradewinds shopping center.
“(The suspect) broke into their business and stole the keys from inside their office,” said Lt. Shannon Smith of SPD, noting that with a relatively small number of vehicles on the lot, it may not have been too difficult to locate the right car for the key. “With them being somewhat late-model cars, he may have been assisted in finding a match.”
“He basically took one of them out joy riding and dumped it at Tradewinds, and then walked back to the car lot and stole a second vehicle,” said Smith.
During this second outing, in the Sebring, a Kentucky State Police unit pulled Perry over at Memorial for allegedly not illuminating his headlights while driving. This was around 3 a.m. Sunday. Perry was arrested for driving under the influence and lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center, said Smith.
After this, the Fairway owner discovered the cars were missing and contacted SPD. Once officers found the Sebring, they made a startling discovery — Perry had been arrested by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department for DUI only days before, at about 2 a.m. on December 30.
At that time, the suspect had been driving a Chevrolet Cobalt. Further investigation revealed that the Cobalt matched the description of a vehicle reported stolen by McAlpin-Hall Motors near light no. 11 on South U.S. 27.
Smith said that owners didn’t realize the vehicle was missing under after the holidays, but then reported it stolen. So officers knew there was a missing Cobalt; they checked the numbers on the car Perry was driving against the missing one, and found a match, said Smith.
“This case had some twists and turns,” noted Smith.
There was no significant damage to the vehicles, according to Smith, and no apparent connection between Perry and either of the two car dealerships.
SPD Det. Chris Gates charged Perry with third-degree burglary, two counts of theft by unlawful taking under $10,000, and receiving stolen property under $10,000.
The case will be presented to the Pulaski Grand Jury.