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Rip-Off Alert: Man takes Mercedes in front of valet

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Updated: 8/02/2013 2:53 pm
LOS ANGELES (NBC News) -- This Rip-Off Alert serves as a warning for any driver who tosses keys to the valet: A man on a bike stole a running car from a valet in Los Angeles.

Hours after a car thief drove off with a $200,000 sports car left running by a restaurant valet, officers arrested a suspect and recovered the vehicle, police said Wednesday.

Dylan Coffey, 20, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of burglary after he broke into an Arleta house while fleeing from officers. Detectives were piecing together evidence that he also stole the car, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement.

Around lunch time on Tuesday, a man got into a Mercedes-Benz SLS parked outside of the Feed Body and Soul restaurant in Venice Beach. A valet left the luxury roadster running for the owner -- DeAnna Staats, who also owns the restaurant.

"I was ready to park it right in front of the restaurant like I always do and I let my guard down," said the valet, who asked to be identified only as "Benjamin." "He threw down a bike and he got in the car and took off. I called 911 right away."

LAPD Detective Lt. Paul Vernon said Coffey apparently left behind a bicycle at the Venice Beach restaurant.

The car was immediately reported stolen, and police tracked it using an OnStar system to the Van Nuys area. About 3 p.m., they found it in Panorama City, near an American Legion post.

Officers staked out the empty car, then saw Coffey come near it, according to an LAPD statement.

"Something spooked him and he went into the (post) where detectives entered," Lt. Vernon said. Coffey ran out of the hall and jumped a fence, fleeing into a residential area, according to the statement.

Coffey went into a home that wasn't his and dressed in the homeowner's clothes, then hid beneath a woodpile, according to the statement.

Officers arrested Coffey and safely recovered the Mercedes.

"The owner was happy to hear her car was found, none the worse for wear," Vernon said, "and we promised her we wouldn’t dirty the interior with print dust."
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