A 10-year-old boy sneaked into a Florida impound lot, stole a pickup truck, led police on a brief chase, and knocked down a utility pole, which then set a house on fire.
The arresting officer said the pint-sized joy rider was “one of the nicest” kids he ever arrested.
“Maybe he had a need for speed,” said Eatonville Police spokesman Sgt. Eric McIntyre.
The incident happened around 3 p.m. Wednesday when police received a call about a child who appeared to be stealing a truck, McIntyre said. The boy, who has not been identified by police, somehow climbed the lot’s 10-foot chain link fence and hopped in one of the cars.
Eatonville police arrived on foot, assuming the 10 year old wasn’t capable of driving. To their surprise, the boy mowed down the fence and “drove away into an adjacent field,” McIntyre said. “Then he entered into the roadway,” where he was motoring along at 40 mph.
“It was almost like a movie, I couldn’t believe it,” David Brock, an eyewitness, told ABC News affiliate WFTV. ”You have nothing else to do but to jump into a car and wreak havoc? I mean, wow!”
The boy’s joyride came to an end two blocks later, McIntyre said, when he crashed into a utility pole, knocking a power line onto a home, causing it to catch on fire.
“I believe it was an electrical-type fire on the outside of the house,” McIntyre said, adding that nothing on the inside of the home was damaged.
The truck, however, sustained an estimated $4,000 in damages according to the Eatonville Public Works facility that owned it.
Police don’t know how the boy found the keys. But they did find out how he learned to drive.
“Word on the street — and word from grandma — is she taught him how to drive,” said McIntyre. “She taught him how to drive tractors in the farm and drive around in the field that she owns.”
The boy lives with his mother in the tiny town of Eatonville, and his grandmother lives in Georgia, McIntrye said.
After the boy wrecked the pickup truck, he tried to run away on foot, but the chief of police arrested and cuffed him about a block and a half later.
The state attorney’s office has 30 days to file charges which could include burglary of a vehicle, grand theft in the third degree and resisting an officer.
“With a juvenile there is a very broad array of decisions that can be made,” said Danielle Tavernier, a spokesperson for the Orange and Osceola County State Attorney’s Office, who expects to receive the paperwork on this case soon. “They take a lot of things into consideration — criminal history, age, family, if they have parents to go home to.”
At his age, McIntyre said, “you can’t really lock him up.” It’s more likely he’ll be asked to participate in “a diversion program to teach right and wrong … just to keep him good and straight for six months to a year.”
Despite the boy’s expensive scrape, police said he was far more polite than most kids who get in trouble.
“This young man was very, very extremely cooperative,” said McIntyre. “He had no attitude and he was very pleasant. I can only tell you that was one of the nicest children I’ve ever come in contact with that has ever committed any kind of act like that.”