Just 13 days after being given a suspended sentence for taking a car, a man tricked a Coventry dealership sales executive to steal a Mercedes he had asked to test drive.
But Martin Edgar was arrested after he was recognised on CCTV footage from the dealership – with the A-class Merc being recovered thanks to it being fitted with a tracker.
He was charged with robbing the salesman, but at Warwick Crown Court his plea of guilty to an alternative offence of theft was accepted by the prosecution.
Edgar (37) of the Salvation Army Hostel in Harnall Lane, Coventry, who also admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance, was jailed for two years and three months.
Prosecutor Rachel Pennington said that on December 8 last year Edgar turned up at the Mercedes-Benz dealership in John Wigley Way, off Foleshill Road, Coventry.
After looking at a 2016 Mercedes A-class, he asked to take it for a test drive.
A sales executive thought Edgar was not the usual sort of Mercedes customer, but agreed and took a photocopy of a driving licence he had produced, which was in a false name.
Unusually, Edgar asked the salesman to drive, and when they set off he directed him to the Blue Ribbon island and then to the roundabout by the Signal Box pub.
He then directed him to turn right and head along Austin Drive towards what Edgar described as ‘a quiet car park’ past a KFC restaurant and the Sainsbury’s petrol station.
Once they had stopped, Edgar said he would drive the car back to the dealership, and they both got out to swap seats.
But as he got round to the driver’s side, Edgar declared: “I’m going to take this car. You can’t stop me.”
The salesman, who said Edgar had his fists clenched and he feared he would be assaulted, handed over the keys, and Edgar drove off in the car.
But the Merc was fitted with a tracker, and a few days later it was recovered from the Hillfields area of the city, where it was found with false number plates.
When Edgar was arrested after being identified from CCTV footage at the dealership, he accepted driving off in the car, but denied stealing it, said Miss Pennington.
She added that Edgar had 20 previous convictions for 34 offences, mainly of theft, and just 13 days before the theft had been given a suspended prison sentence for taking a car without consent.
Judge Anthony Potter observed that Edgar denies having his fists clenched during the exchange with the salesman, and said he would sentence him on that basis.
Ian Windridge, defending, said: “It’s clear from his record that he is a thief, with thefts from shops or the taking of motor vehicles.”
Of a suggestion that the theft was planned, Mr Windridge commented: “He was scruffy, with a black eye. This is not a man who had preened himself to pose as a Mercedes customer.”
And he added: “He made it clear to the police he knew nothing of the change of number plates. He had passed the vehicle on to someone else.”
Jailing Edgar and banning him from driving for 23 months, Judge Potter told him: “You were clearly prepared for the encounter, because you had not taken your own driving licence, you had obtained another document, and you had worked out where you wanted the employee to take you.
“You had clearly given the matter some thought as to where you could take the vehicle to steal it without being interrupted.
“You told him you were going to take it and there was nothing he could do. There was clearly some implied menace in what you were saying.”