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Police: Car thief caught using fake license plate, drawn in crayon on paper bag

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 12:59:06-05

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. – A suspected car thief was arrested after authorities say he was caught using a homemade license plate, drawn in crayon on a paper grocery bag.

On Thursday, Indiana State Police say troopers stopped to lend a hand to 20-year-old Joshua Anthony Lewis-Brown when they spotted him stranded along the I-80 Toll Road.

Initially, officers found Lewis-Brown tending to a flat tire on a Toyota Corolla. The man said he was unable to change the tire and he was in need of a tow truck.

Preparing to oblige Lewis-Brown’s request, police say troopers spotted the suspicious license plate on the car and began to investigate further.

Officers ran a check on the vehicle identification number (VIN) and discovered the Corolla had been reported stolen out of State College, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday. They also found that the driver, a resident of Rochester, New York, had never actually been licensed to operate a motor vehicle in any state and was on probation for grand larceny.

Lewis-Brown was placed under arrest and transported him to the Steuben County Jail, where he was booked and charged with possession of stolen property and operating without ever obtaining a license. He’ll be held on the Indiana charges before being extradited back to Pennsylvania to face local charges.

Police say the stolen vehicle had been left unattended and unlocked with the engine running outside a Pennsylvania grocery store. The owner, wanting to keep his car warming in the cold weather, had run into make a quick purchase, only to find his car missing upon return, according to police.

“In light of this particular circumstance, the Indiana State Police would remind all motorists that leaving your vehicle unattended with the engine running and doors unlocked, is never a good idea,” wrote police. “Auto theft is often a common occurrence during the winter months. This is especially true in our urban neighborhoods where we find a higher concentration of residents wanting to warm their cars unattended in the frigid early morning hours prior to the morning commute.”