Law catches up with alleged test drive car thief in St. George

Stock image | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Logan man is in jail after he was arrested in St. George on felony warrants issued on two similar cases in which the suspect is accused of stealing two vehicles from dealerships up north during test drives.

Lawrence Robert Allison, 50, of Logan, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 17, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

On Wednesday afternoon, St. George Police Officers arrested 50-year-old Lawrence Robert Allison on two second-degree felony theft warrants – one issued out of Utah County and the second issued out of Salt Lake County.

The Utah County warrant involves a case that began Jan. 8 when an individual called the Provo Police Department reporting that a 2014 Nissan Versa had been stolen from a dealership and officers were called in to investigate the report.

The owner of the business told police that earlier that day, a Polynesian man entered the dealership and asked to test-drive the Nissan, but after several hours the man still had not returned the car so the owner decided to call authorities and report the car as stolen.

The Nissan was located 12 days later abandoned in a parking lot at BYU by one of the school’s parking enforcement cadets. Officers with the BYU Police Department reviewed the security footage, which showed the driver leave the car in the lot. The suspect also matched the description of the man who took the car from the dealership nearly two weeks before.

When Allison was later contacted by authorities and asked about the vehicle, he allegedly admitted to having the keys to the stolen Nissan and handed them over to police. When tested, the officer was able to open the car doors with the keys provided, as well as the key fob that was also retrieved from the suspect.

Allison was detained at the university until Provo City Police officers arrived and arrested the suspect.

When questioned later by Provo officers, the suspect refused to answer any questions until he spoke to his attorney and was transported and booked into Utah County Jail facing a second-degree felony theft charge. A no-bail warrant was issued for his arrest on Tuesday afternoon when he failed to appear in 4th District Court in American Fork for a scheduled hearing.  He was arrested in St. George the following afternoon.

Five months prior, the suspect was arrested for a similar crime following an investigation into a vehicle theft reported Aug. 22.

In that case, the owner of a dealership in Midvale reported that a Polynesian man entered the business carrying a black bag and a ukulele and asked to take one of the vehicles on a test drive. After the sales associate took a copy of the suspect’s driver’s license, he was handed the keys to the car and told the employee “he was going to go for a quick test drive for a few minutes and bring it back,” the officer noted in the report.

After several hours the man had not returned with the car so the dealership contacted authorities and provided officers with a copy of the man’s driver’s license. When officers responded to the suspect’s home address, they found the vehicle parked in front and inside they found Allison who was taken into custody by police.

Officers then inventoried the car and found the black bag and the ukulele as described by the dealership.

The suspect declined to answer any questions without an attorney present during an interview with police and he was then booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on second-degree felony theft. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 28 when he failed to appear in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City for a scheduled hearing.

The suspect remains in custody in Washington County without bail.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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