Friday, January 25, 2013

Man stole vehicle so he could drive south to escape cold weather

In an effort to escape the winter cold and snow, police say an Iowa man stole a vehicle and drove hundreds of miles south to Mississippi in search of warmer weather. Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said 46-year-old Coralville man Harold E. Schneider took a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon from an Iowa City driveway and drove it roughly 600 miles before he was caught.

According to a criminal complaint, sometime during the evening of Dec. 31, 2012, Schneider went up to a residence in Iowa City. Parked in the driveway was a black 2009 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with keys inside. The estimated value of the jeep is more than $27,500. Police said Schneider drove off in the jeep and the theft went unnoticed until Jan. 1, 2013.

The theft was reported to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the jeep was reported in a nationwide system as a stolen vehicle. The next day, at 7:40am the jeep was stopped by the Panola County Sheriff’s Department in Mississippi. Schneider was behind the wheel, police said. Batesville, the county seat of Panola County, is nearly 600 miles from Iowa City.

Police said during an interview with an investigator, Schneider admitted to stealing the jeep. Schneider allegedly told the investigator he was “tired of the cold weather and the snow and he was trying to go south where it was warm.” Schneider allegedly sold items inside the jeep to fund his road trip. Schneider now faces one count of first-degree theft, a class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He was booked at the Johnson County Jail on Jan. 19 and remains there on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

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