Florida Man Drives Stolen Car to Police Station to Get Docs Left in Other Stolen Car

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 13, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Police sting operations have become as complicated as movie heists, with layer upon layer of subterfuge designed to lure master criminals into law enforcement's web.

Take this gambit from police in St. Petersburg, Florida: after a genius car thief left paperwork bearing his name in a car he was accused of stealing, a cunning detective called him to come pick them up. Not suspecting the slick stratagem, the thief stole yet another car and drove it to the police station.

And there the officer's elaborate trap was sprung!


Now there are a lot of ins and outs here, so try and keep up. Carnell Eugene Butler was a suspect in a car theft, mostly because the detectives working the theft were able to uncover court documents -- from within the abandoned Infiniti -- that had Butler's name on them. Investigators began connecting the dots (not doubt on one of those big boards with pictures and names and string linking the pictures and names) and connected Butler to a relative of Butler's, whom they called, leaving a message for Butler. This was the first ruse in their Machiavellian masterwork.

Falling for their feint, Butler returned the call and agreed to meet officers to pick up his court documents. But how would he get there? Even wily veterans couldn't have suspected he would steal a Hyundai Sonata to drive to the station. (Or could they?)

...and Switch!

When he arrived at the police station, the jig was up. The cagy coppers placed the cuffs on Butler, and, like a sly Sherlock Holmes, decided to search his pockets. Lo and behold they found the keys to the Sonata. Just as they had planned, probably.

And on a hunch known only to the most seasoned sleuths, investigators searched Butler's home, where they uncovered a stolen bicycle. How long had the larcenous prodigy been at it? Who could know? What we do know is that in this battle of brilliant brains, it was the good guys who came out on top.

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