Man apprehended after taking #039;test drive#039;

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2004

A young man seemingly shopping for the right vehicle took a brown Jeep Wrangler from Integrity Motor Vehicles Inc. out for a test drive Friday afternoon and did not come back.

Nathan Winters, 22, of Fraziers Bottom, W.Va., decided to "test drive" the vehicle to a Days Inn motel in a community 16 miles north of Cincinnati where he was apprehended Saturday by Officer David Stiles of the Sharonville Police Department.

Stiles said Winters was arrested for two outstanding warrants - contempt of court and grand larceny - from other communities. He is currently being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center in Cincinnati.

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Sharonville police also recovered the undamaged Jeep and an officer drove it to the police station.

"We saved them a tow bill - the owner is driving here and he'll be able to pick up his Jeep when he gets here," Stiles said.

A report was filed with the Ironton Police Department and a warrant for the man's arrest is pending. A local tip regarding the suspect's whereabouts enabled the IPD to alert officials in Sharonville.

Integrity sales manager Dan Bruce said the dealership has never had something like this happen before and everyone at the dealership was surprised.

Although Bruce said he did not directly deal with Winters, he said he could not think of anything different anybody could have done that would have prevented it from happening because dealership security measures were followed.

"He took two other test drives and came right back," Bruce said, "We made a copy of his driver's license and he provided us with his information to fill out a credit application."

The suspect's driver's license was issued in Washington, Pa., and he told dealership employees he worked at a restaurant in Ashland, Ky.

"He knew people we knew about from the restaurant and he wouldn't have known them unless he worked there," Bruce said.

One of the dealership's owners, Gary Chapman, drove to Sharonville Saturday afternoon to retrieve the vehicle.

"We're not sure why he took the vehicle - it sure wasn't to watch the baseball game. You do not take our vehicle and not come back with it," Bruce said.