Car stolen during test drive in Murray recovered, suspect arrested

Posted at 10:06 PM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 21:38:53-05

UPDATE: FOX 13 learned Monday that the car has been recovered thanks to tips from the public. The suspect (not yet identified) was arrested.
Original story:

MURRAY, Utah — Kings Peak Auto Sales is a small car dealership right off of State Street in Murray among several other dealers.

Their motto, as owner Joseph Speciale says, is: “We try to make it as easy and simple to buy a car as possible.”

Speciale says they like to sell higher-end cars at an affordable price.

"We do a lot of the nicer cars. We do a lot of luxury cars," he said. "We do have a lot of Audis, Teslas, BMWs, a Jaguar."

So, when a man came back to the dealership for a second time to take one last drive of a white 2018 Audi S4 with all the trimmings, they were happy to make a sale.

“He just came in and we took a picture of his ID, and we have a pretty laid-back process where we are just trying to get the right people in the right cars,” Speciale said. “He said, 'I’ll be gone for around an hour,' and I said 'OK, we’re closing, but I’ll be around anyway so that’s fine.'”

By the time they had finally closed up several hours later, there was still no car.

“I thought, maybe I’ll give him a call in the morning, maybe something crazy happened,” he said. “I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

But he never got ahold of him, nor did he see the car through the day Saturday.

“Still haven’t heard from him," Speciale said. "Pretty sure all the information is fake, so we are going to go ahead and assume it's stolen now.”

So he called the police and posted on Facebook about the car, hoping someone has seen it.

Speciale said the car itself is a major head-turner — the kind of car that brings people to his lot.

"It was really well-colored, and it had beautiful red interior… That’s definitely one of those ones that draws people's attention to it… You bring a lot of people in,” he said, and added while also laughing a little: “We have had three or four people call us since and been like, ‘Aw, I was going to come in on that car.'"

Police did say that Utah has a very high recovery rate of vehicles, but it isn’t easy for an independent dealership like Speciale's that carries only a few dozen cars.

“It's a little harder for a smaller dealer to take on something like a car stolen,” he said. “We have to absorb the full cost of that for months and months.”

Another factor is the pandemic has affected business, Speciale admitted sales aren’t bad, but the issue is getting inventory.

"The big manufacturers have been shut down," he said. "Nobody is getting inventory from the Larry H. Millers… the Ken Garffs, that kind of thing.”

So, his ultimate hope is that someone might recognize the car with its flashy red interior and plates that read “Kings Peak Auto Sales” with a silhouette of a mountain.

And for now, all he says he can do is "wait and hope the car gets recovered, with not too many damages preferably… but if it turns out some wild thing happened, I am just happy to just have my car back, to be honest.”

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