James Pleasant said he meant to return a borrowed 2014 Ford Focus to Hertz Rent-a-Car on Dec. 13. But when he failed to do that, the months-late car became the reason for the 29-year-old's arrest Monday.
Pleasant faced charges for theft by receiving stolen property, failure to use turn signals, driving while license suspended, following too closely and no proof of insurance during a Tuesday Recorder's Court hearing.
Detective Thomas Hill told Judge Michael Cielinski Tuesday that he began following Pleasant after he spotted the driver weaving erratically near North Oakley Drive. At one point, Pleasant's lane switch allegedly almost clipped the front of Hill's vehicle, then immediately began tailgating another person before veering off onto North Oakley Drive.
After looking up the vehicle's tag number, he saw that it had been reported stolen from the Veterans Parkway Hertz Rent-a-Car on Dec. 9, with his girlfriend already having been arrested for its theft. That person was not clearly identified during court proceedings.
Hill began searching for the vehicle, which he eventually found near Hawaii Way. After detaining Pleasant, he asked why the vehicle had not been returned to the rental store after it was reported stolen. Pleasant said he had intended to return it Dec. 13, but was unable to bring it to the store before they closed.
A phone call to Hertz revealed that the company had sent several letters and called Pleasant's girlfriend numerous times to get the vehicle returned. When the Ford Focus was not brought back within two months of its scheduled return date, they reported it stolen.
Pleasant initially told police he was only friends with the woman who rented the car. However, another officer who had worked the stolen vehicle case informed Hill that that Pleasant was in a relationship with the woman, who had rented the car at his behest.
Since Pleasant could not explain why he had not turned the car in at the Columbus Police Department when he failed to turn it into Hertz, he was charged with theft by receiving stolen property.
Cielinski set Pleasant's bond at $17,000. His case will be bond over to Muscogee County State Court.