DAVENPORT, Fla. — A Florida man working as an Uber driver kept his rented vehicle running for three weeks after he stopped making payments on it, knowing that the SUV would not restart if he turned the engine off, authorities said.
According to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Elijah Austin Mills, 27, of Maitland, was arrested Oct. 24 and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
“We talk about crazy criminals, but this is the craziest criminal we’ve had in a while,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a video posted to the YouTube page of the sheriff’s office.
According to the sheriff’s office, shortly after 9:30 p.m. EDT, Mills, in his capacity as an Uber driver, was transporting a couple visiting from the United Kingdom to their rental home in a Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV when he was boxed in by four deputies and forced to stop on U.S. 27 in Davenport, located several miles west of Walt Disney World, WFTV reported.
Deputies said that Mills, who rented the vehicle in order to work as an Uber driver, had stopped making payments on it and refused to take calls from the Orange County company he contracted with, the sheriff’s office said.
Judd said at one point, the investigation became a crime and the vehicle was classified as stolen.
After stopping Mills, deputies arrested him and took the couple, who were in the area to get married, back to their retail property, the sheriff’s office said.
“You can’t believe this,” Judd said. “He left the car running for three weeks. Do you know why? If he turned it off, it wouldn’t crank back up.”
The rental company had installed devices in its vehicles that could be remotely activated to stop the car from restarting if a renter stopped making payments, the sheriff’s office said.
“So he left the car running -- did you hear what I said?” Judd said. “Now someone’s gonna buy that rental car one day and have no idea it idled for three weeks.”
Mills is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 28, according to Polk County online court records.