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Police: Paraplegic man steals car from dealership

OCALA — Police say Shamal Battice, a paraplegic man, stole a vehicle from an Ocala dealership Wednesday before leading officers on a brief chase.

He was arrested a short time later when deputies spotted him at a gas station.

According to police, Battice, 28, went to Ford of Ocala to purchase a vehicle. A salesman showed him around and he decided on a white 2009 Pontiac G6.

Police say the salesman helped Battice into the car so he could see how the car felt. But once inside, he locked the doors, turned on the vehicle and put the end of a folding cane on the gas pedal. He then drove away from the lot.

"It was unbelievable, only in the movies," Anselmo "Chico" Barreto told Ocala Star-Banner.

The dealership notified police and the Marion County Sheriff's Office — deputies pursued the car to the Alachua County line. Deputies in Alachua County picked up the chase until they decided not to follow him any longer. Eventually, deputies in Bradford County saw Battice putting gas in the car.

Battice is charged with driving with a suspended license and may face a charge of grand theft auto.

It's not the first time the dealership has been in the news. The newspaper reports that three years ago, six vehicles were destroyed by a fire when a Ford Escape was brought in by an owner who'd received a recall notice relating to a fire hazard. In November, two new trucks were stolen.

Police: Paraplegic man steals car from dealership 01/30/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:23pm]
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