A Florida man has been accused of stealing a car that was ultimately hit by a train and catapulted into a nearby home, police said. The man, Bradford Weitzel, has since been arrested on charges of grand theft and criminal mischief.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said in a public Facebook post that Weitzel stole the car upon leaving a bar early Saturday morning. He told detectives that he couldn’t find his vehicle, so he stole someone else’s in a “good faith effort to locate his own.”
Eventually, however, Weitzel found himself on the train tracks along Indian River Drive—a 13.7-mile stretch of road that connects Fort Pierce and Jensen Beach.
“Weitzel claims the vehicle he stole suddenly stopped dead on the tracks as a train was coming,” said police. “So he said he got out and ran, leaving the car on the tracks.
“Within seconds, the train hit the car, catapulting it into a nearby home where the homeowners were sound asleep,” police continued.
Fortunately, the homeowners were not injured in the crash.
After abandoning the stolen car, police said Weitzel then vandalized a nearby fruit stand and attempted to steal a forklift. He was later arrested after flagging down the responding deputies to “let them know he was still looking for his car.”
In addition to grand theft and criminal mischief, police said other charges “are expected.”
According to Florida Statute 812.014, grand theft is considered a felony in the state of Florida. However, it is classified as “different felonies based on the specific circumstances and factors present at the time of the offense,” according to Goldman Wetzel, a Florida-based criminal defense trial firm.
For example, grand theft is considered a first-degree felony if the amount stolen exceeds $100,000, whereas grand theft is considered a second-degree felony if the amount stolen is between $20,000 and $100,000, the law firm said.
“[I]f a defendant is convicted [of grand theft], he or she can face imprisonment that ranges from 5 to 30 years and fines from $5,000 to $10,000,” Goldman Wetzel explained.
“Depending on the case, additional penalties may be imposed,” the law firm added.
Weitzel isn’t the first Florida man to be arrested in a bizarre grand theft case. In August, Charles Harrington was accused of stealing two trucks, a car, a four-wheeler and a forklift in what police described as an “impressive crime spree.”
In addition to allegedly stealing several vehicles, Harrington was also accused of stealing a lighter, cigarettes and a pair of shoes.