Police: Ohio woman paid thief $30 to steal her car from auto body shop
CINCINNATI (WXIX/Gray News) - A woman in Ohio allegedly paid someone to steal her car from an auto shop rather than paying the full $3,500 she owed for repairs.
Surveillance video showed the hired suspect driver hit an employee with the car on their getaway.
Kitu Veal, owner of Kitu’s Auto Group in Cincinnati, says 28-year-old Terrella Lewis brought her car in for repairs, but when it came time to pay, she didn’t have the money.
The cost was also subject to rise without payment as Lewis risked accumulating additional storage fees while her car languished at Veal’s shop.
Veal said he offered to help her by moving the car to his secondary location, where it remained parked while she worked things out.
“I put it on the street right here for maybe 10 minutes,” Veal said. “Then I went into the side of my building. I’m walking into the building. I hear the alarm go off, like the chirp of the alarm. So I turn around and saw a guy running to get into her front seat.”
Veal said he thought the person behind the wheel was attempting to steal from the car or steal the car itself.
“Everyone who comes to my business, I protect their car like it’s mine,” said Veal. “It would hurt my heart to know that someone’s property got taken while it was in my possession.”
But police claimed in an affidavit that Lewis gave the suspect a key to her car and paid them $30 to steal it so she could avoid paying the repair costs.
Surveillance video showed Veal jogged to the entrance and stood directly in front of the car. He says he told the person to get out, but the driver then accelerated into him. and he was dragged down Central Avenue.
“It was definitely an experience while on the ride,” Veal said. “Once he hit the brakes, that’s when the hard part kicked in. My back still hurts from it.”
Veal said if he had known, he would not have attempted to stop the driver.
“The only reason I stood in front of this car was so he didn’t take your property and put you in a worse position, and you were the person who sent them down here the whole time,” he said.
The person who hit Veal has not yet been identified.
Lewis is currently being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on $10,000 bail for a charge of complicity.
She will appear before a grand jury June 30.
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