Florida Man’s Search for Vehicle Ends with Multiple Criminal Charges

February 16, 2022 Theft/Property Crimes

Dude, Where’s My Car? Florida Man’s Search for Vehicle Ends with Multiple Criminal Charges

Sometimes a night out can lead to a rough morning—and potentially, memory loss. Whether it be how you got home, where you put your keys, or even where your vehicle is, many details about the wild night before can be gone with the wind. For one Florida man, the loss of his car led him on an eventful and destructive day—one that ended with multiple criminal charges.

In a case that only seemed to go from bad to worse to even worse, a man’s day was ruined, and it unfortunately negatively impacted others as well. Although it may sound almost comedic, the events that took place in this case were quite dangerous and caused serious damage.

If you’ve ever wondered what a lost vehicle, a train, and a stolen car that flew into a home have in common, then read on. This page will cover the case of Bradford Weitzel and his attempt to search for his car after a night out drinking. 

What Happened?

Port St. Lucie local Bradford Weitzel, 38, was out at a Martin County bar on Saturday, February 5th, 2022. When he went to leave the bar early in the morning, he realized his car was nowhere to be found. While most people would call the police to report the car missing or call a friend to go in search of the vehicle, Weitzel took matters into his own hands.

According to a post on their public Facebook page, Marion County Sheriff’s Office shared what Weitzel told Detectives. Weitzel decided to steal a car “in good faith” in order to go searching for his own vehicle. What happened next can only be compared to a scene from a movie. While driving the stolen car, Weitzel ended up stuck on the train tracks along the Indian River Drive.

To Weitzel’s horror, he realized that there was a train racing toward him on the tracks. Weitzel decided his only choice was to jump out of the car and run off the tracks, avoiding getting crushed by the oncoming train. Inevitably, the train came into contact with the stolen car. The car flew into the air and crashed into a nearby home.

Luckily for the homeowners, who were asleep when the impact hit, they were completely unharmed. However, they told Martin County Sheriff’s Office that the sound of the loud crash was enough to jolt them. Weitzel’s search was far from over, though.

On foot, Weitzel ran to a nearby fruit stand, where he has been accused of vandalizing a stall of the business and attempting to steal a forklift. It was only after this that Weitzel accepted defeat, and realized the only thing left for him to do was to flag down one of the responding law enforcement officers to inform them that he was searching for his lost vehicle.

Sheriff’s Office’s Response

A Facebook post published by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office concerning this strange case received viral reactions. The title, completely capitalized, reads: “NO TITLE COULD EXPLAIN THIS CASE, BUT THE DETAILS WILL…WELL, IT’S BEST TO JUST READ ON. TRAIN vs VEHICLE vs HOUSE.”

Although the post may seem a bit over the top, and the comments section has exploded with people laughing at the almost unbelievable situation, it does highlight a very important concept: the concept of choice. Although Weitzel claims he was acting in good faith, he still chose to steal a car rather than initially reaching out to authorities.

Now what remains can be compared to a domino effect of unfortunate events. Now the question remains, what will Weitzel be charged with?

What was He Charged with?

As of now, Weitzel has been arrested and charged with Grand Theft Auto and Criminal Mischief. However, the sheriff’s office says additional charges are expected as well.

In the state of Florida, any theft of an automobile is considered a felony criminal offense. Grand theft auto falls under Florida Statute Section 320.01. Penalties and punishments depend on the value of the stolen vehicle. If the stolen car was worth less than $20,000, it is grand theft in the third degree, resulting in fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. If the car was worth over $20,000 but less than $100,000, it is grand theft in the second degree, resulting in fines up to $10,000 and up to fifteen years in prison. If the car was worth more than $100,000 it is grand theft in the first degree, resulting in fines up to $10,000 and up to thirty years in prison.

Florida Statute Section 806.13 defines criminal mischief as the defendant acting willfully and maliciously with the intent to damage property that belongs to another. Considering Weitzel stole the vehicle that was then hit by the train and went into the Florida home, criminal mischief seems to be an appropriate charge.

The penalties for criminal mischief also vary depending on the value of the damage caused. If the damage is $1,000 or more, it is a third-degree felony and is punishable by fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Considering all of the damage that was caused in this case—a stolen car being crushed by a train, a house getting destroyed by a catapulted vehicle, and a vandalized fruit stand—it is safe to say Weitzel’s early morning car search ended with an expensive amount of damages.

It is not said if any damage was caused to the train that hit the stolen car—which could then amount to even more monetary damages.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Some people have a bad day. Then there’s the Weitzel level of a bad day. While the case is receiving much attention across Florida, that is not to say that there are no possible defenses to his charges. Even in the worst possible situations, it is important to have proper legal help go over all of the facts of the case and figure out a game plan. Although this case may seem like the  worst-case scenario, horrible things can happen, and it’s important to reach out for the right legal help.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, it is imperative that you seek out professional legal help. Receiving guidance and legal help from an experienced defense attorney in Tallahassee, FL can make the difference between paying high fines, serving jail time, and walking away free. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented residents in Florida from all walks of life and has handled a wide variety of criminal matters. They understand what it takes to find the right defense to your case and are ready to fight for your freedom. Even if it is not a train vs car vs house case, your case is just as important and requires proper representation. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message and receive a free consultation regarding your case today.

Written by Karissa Key

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