DRIVE BY SUCKER
Nashville Thieves Rent a Car and Then Sell It at McDonald’s
If $30,000 sounds suspiciously low for a nearly new Suburban, you’re a step ahead of the man who answered a Craigslist ad and wound up with a hot car and an empty wallet.
A Lafayette, Tennessee, man thought he’d struck Craigslist gold. The Chevrolet Suburban, normally valued at around $60,000, was selling for half its normal price. All he had to do was bring $30,000 in cash to a McDonald’s parking lot in Nashville, and the new vehicle would be his.
But Kyle Whitlow, the would-be Suburban owner, grew suspicious of the deal when he forked over the $30,000. The 28-year-old handed the cash to two young men, who gave him the Suburban and sped off in their own car without even counting the money. Whitlow’s suspicions grew when he attempted to register the car later that day and found another name on the registry: EAN Holdings LLC, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
“It was on Craigslist, you know,” Whitlow told The Daily Beast. “What gave it away is he didn’t want to count the money or nothing.”
The Suburban sale was the product of a two-day crime spree involving vehicle theft and credit card fraud, Nashville International Airport police wrote in a report obtained by a Nashville ABC affiliate. Two young men, identified as Kaleb Louis, 22, and Maurice Lewis, 20, flew from Houston, Texas, to Nashville on March 14. While still in the airport, the pair allegedly used a fake driver’s license and a stolen credit card to rent the expensive SUV.
After driving off the lot with the rented Suburban, Louis and Lewis allegedly set about making the car look like their own. They outfitted the rental with a license plate ripped from a Toyota Camry in a nearby apartment complex, and forged documents to indicate that they owned the car. Then they listed the Suburban on the Nashville Craigslist page, where Whitlow purchased it the following day.
After selling the vehicle to Whitlow at McDonald’s, the pair boarded the next flight to Houston. According to police, they remain at large.
Rental vehicle theft is on the rise in Houston, where police say criminals are printing fake IDs and using them to rent cars, which are then used to commit other crimes, or sold to unsuspecting Craigslist buyers.
An Enterprise representative declined to comment on the Suburban theft, or the frequency of other thefts from their lots. But with the exception of the license plate removed from the back of the Suburban, the company saw the car returned in one piece, police said.
When asked whether they would keep tabs on future vehicle thefts, or implement new anti-theft policies, Enterprise Rent-a-Car said it would leave crime prevention to the police. Enterprise is “not going to have some kind of database of vehicles sold on Craigslist,” the company told The Daily Beast.
Nashville Airport police delivered the Suburban to Enterprise shortly after Whitlow discovered it was stolen. With the car back on the Enterprise lot, however, Whitlow has nothing to show for the $30,000 he allegedly paid for the vehicle.
“I doubt it,” Whitlow told The Daily Beast when asked whether he could recover the money. “That’s what I’m pissed off about. The detective told me I probably wouldn’t see the money again, that they probably wouldn’t even see jail time. That’s what I don’t understand. If I’d stolen it, I’d be in jail already.”