Police say a Hazelwood auto body worker decided to commute in a car stolen from his employer, Complete Auto Body at 6041 N Lindbergh Blvd, Hazelwood, MO.
Over a recent weekend, a coworker spotted the suspect driving the 2003 Pontiac Bonneville around his neighborhood. His employer checked surveillance, and all the evidence was right there. Complete Auto Body General Manager Kurtis Barks said, “You see a vehicle parked behind our dumpster, watch the guy strategically move the gate, and then take off with our car. Apparently he did this once, got away with it, so he decided he’d just keep the car.”
Barks says not only did 41 year-old Ben Taylor take the Pontiac for the weekend, but he documented it on social media: “I came to find out he was actually putting pictures on Facebook where he was kind of modeling on the vehicle, and showing off to his friends.”
Taylor’s boss, along with Hazelwood Police, presented their evidence to Taylor, but he still denied it, until they showed Taylor his own meal receipts, left in the car.
“Eventually, he did come around and admit to it,” says Hazelwood Police Lt. Ron Livingston. Ultimately, police say Taylor put 78 miles on the car, and caused $3800 worth of damage.
Barks said, “Apparently he decided to go off-roading, and the right front and left front of the vehicle were messed up. We repaired all that, took care of it, we actually bought the car from the customer in order to make up for it, so there was no damage or loss for them.”
The Pontiac is now a rental car, and its former owner is now a regular customer. That’s left Taylor, who worked as a porter and car cleaner, fired and behind bars, charged with Stealing a Motor Vehicle, a Class C Felony.
Barks adds, “We’re very thankful to have great employees that actually stood up for us, and told us, and we had the right surveillance in place to catch them.”
The theft happened back in November, but charges were just filed. That’s because police were investigating a similar crime, in which Taylor was a suspect. However, there was not enough evidence to charge him in that incident.