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6:03 PM Fri, Sept. 21st

Police arrest man for allegedly stealing fellow camper's SUV

Jason Benstead

Jason Benstead

Yavapai County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man June 16 on charges including theft of a means of transportation after they found him in Kirkland driving a 1996 Isuzu Rodeo sports utility vehicle that had been reported stolen 30 minutes earlier.

At 1:15 p.m., a deputy answered a call about a vehicle theft that had just occurred in Walker. The woman whose SUV had been stolen told the deputy that she and two friends had met and befriended Jason Benstead, 34, the day before while camping in Walker.

The woman told the deputy that, during a discussion among the group about running some errands, Benstead suddenly grabbed the keys to her SUV from her friend, and while the group yelled at him to stop, drove away with the SUV and their belongings, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies issued a bulletin for the SUV and, within 30 minutes, a patrol deputy saw the vehicle on a highway in Kirkland.

When the driver, later identified as Benstead, realized the deputy had spotted him, he drove off the road and tried to flee on nearby railroad tracks before being caught and arrested, D'Evelyn said.

During a search of Benstead, the deputy found a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue. Benstead, whose license was suspended, showed signs of driving impairment, D'Evelyn said.

Inside the SUV, deputies found a duffle bag belonging to Benstead with hypodermic needles, another glass pipe and a number of crushed pills, D'Evelyn said.

Benstead told deputies he had "borrowed" the vehicle from its owner to drive to California, D'Evelyn said.

A deputy booked Benstead into the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde on charges including theft of means of transportation, aggravated DUI, fleeing a pursuing law enforcement vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.

Benstead remains in custody on a $25,000 bond, D'Evelyn said.