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Prospective car buyer takes Toyota out for test drive — and never comes back

The vehicle, taken from a dealership in Woods Cross, Utah, was found undamaged in North Salt Lake City.

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By David K. Li

Utah police were still on the hunt Wednesday for a prospective car buyer who took a Toyota out for a test drive but never came back, authorities said.

The 40-year-old man went to Frontline Auto Sales in Woods Cross, just outside Salt Lake City, on Monday afternoon and wanted to check out a 2017 Toyota Corolla, officials said.

He surrendered his driver's license and was given the keys for a test drive, but he didn't bother coming back.

The car was found abandoned Tuesday night at a church just a few miles away in North Salt Lake City, undamaged and with the driver nowhere in sight, officials said.

The keys were not in the car, so the dealership had to get a new set made, costing about $200, which turned out to be a minor inconvenience compared to the prospect of losing a $13,000 car.

"I got the car back already," dealership owner Gustavo Valdovinos said Wednesday. "I mean, I don't have to take a loss, and the car is in good shape."

The driver had been gone for about 2½ hours when the dealership started worrying.

The man had said he would want the car inspected by his own mechanics before he bought it, so Frontline called four nearby Toyota dealerships just in case the customer took it in without telling them.

None of the dealerships had spotted the Corolla.

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Valdovinos said his finance manager, Carlos Urvina, knew something was off, saying, "I don't think this guy's coming back."

The man, who was not immediately identified, had not been arrested by Wednesday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said.

As a result of the 24-hour-plus theft, Valdovinos said, all test drives from now on will have an employee riding shotgun.

"I'd like to get this guy off the streets now before he hurts himself or someone," Valdovinos said. "It can only escalate from here. He's not going to come back here and say, 'I'm sorry.'"