Mercedes test drive turns into a car theft; man caught in Waldo
Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
A sharply dressed 30-year-old Gainesville man walked into the the Mercedes-Benz dealership at 4000 N. Main St. Thursday evening and convinced a salesman to allow him to test-drive a pricey black two-door coupe by himself -- minutes after the pair had completed a test drive together.
Cedric Breon O'Neal, who was described by dealership personnel as wearing nice slacks, a purple shirt and matching tie, agreed to return the car within 10 minutes, but after a series of excuses by O'Neal via text messages and phone calls over a period of 55 minutes, the salesman called the Gainesville Police Department to report the automobile stolen.
While GPD officers were en route to the dealership, the suspect made a final phone call informing the salesperson that he would not be returning the black Mercedes coupe at all.
Shortly afterward, an officer spotted the vehicle speeding north on Waldo Road, passing Wal-Mart at more than 80 mph and heading toward Waldo, GPD said.
In accordance with a GPD policy against high-speed chases except in circumstances where imminent danger to others is likely to result, officers immediately contacted the Waldo Police Department and asked for help in apprehending the suspect.
Waldo Officer Jerry Gentry and Cpl. Kenneth Smith, who were off duty at the time, were joined by K-9 Officer Jeff Pedrick, and they surrounded the stretch of road along State Road 24, throwing down stop sticks, which ultimately flattened all four tires on the Mercedes as O'Neal came speeding through.
GPD officers arrived shortly behind O'Neal and arrested him without incident.
On Friday evening, O'Neal was being held in the Alachua County jail without bond. The vehicle was returned to the car dealership without any damage apart from the flattened tires, GPD said.