End of the road: Suspect in $97,000 Bentley theft in Naples nabbed in La.

A Bently Contintental GT stolen by Justin William Durbin was recovered after Durbin led authorities on  a high speed chase in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Thursday.  The car is owned by Ambassador Auto Sales in Naples and will be returned on Saturday.  Brad Puckett/Lake Charles American Press

A Bently Contintental GT stolen by Justin William Durbin was recovered after Durbin led authorities on a high speed chase in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Thursday. The car is owned by Ambassador Auto Sales in Naples and will be returned on Saturday. Brad Puckett/Lake Charles American Press

Justin William Durbin

Justin William Durbin

Video from NBC-2

Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office, 2010

Lafayette (La.) Police Department, 2010

Baton Rouge (La.) Police Department, March 2011

Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Police Department, April 2011

Prince Georges County (Md.) Sheriff’s Office, May 2011

Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office, June 2011

Hamilton County (Ind.) Sheriff’s Office, June 2011

Naples Police Department, June 2011

Virginia Beach (Va.) Police Department, June 2011

Cornered by law enforcement in Southwest Louisiana, realizing his cross-country joy ride in stolen luxury cars — including a $97,000 Bentley from Naples — was about to end, police said Justin William Durbin put his hands in the air and uttered two words.

“It’s me.”

Durbin, the 22-year-old Oklahoma native whose trail of bold car heists stretching from Illinois to Florida earned him the nickname the “Bentley Bandit,” was arrested Thursday night in Louisiana, hours after he escaped from a chase after running the car off the road.

Law enforcement officials said Durbin is wanted by nine agencies in seven states, and is responsible for stealing four luxury cars. His last known stolen car was a Bentley Continental GT swiped last month from Ambassador Auto Sales, 3164 Davis Blvd., East Naples, Naples police said. The previous three were all Mercedes-brand vehicles.

Durbin is being held without bond in Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center in Lake Charles, La., located about halfway between Houston and New Orleans. He faces charges across the country ranging from grand theft auto to theft to burglary.

Durbin’s eventual path through the court system remains unclear. A warrant was issued by the Naples Police Department on July 11, for first-degree grand theft.

A Louisiana State Police trooper first spotted Durbin on Thursday at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday inside a Bentley Continental GT — with a license plate reading “DIAL911.”. The car, which law enforcement was told to look for by Naples police, was believed to be the one stolen from Ambassador Auto Sales.

When approached by troopers, Durbin took off and a high-speed chase ensued. He drove about 10 miles, reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, before running the Bentley off the road, abandoning the car and taking off on foot, authorities said.

He remained at large for six hours, eluding tracking dogs and helicopter. At about 9:45 p.m., Louisiana State Police Trooper Jimmy Rogers spotted Durbin walking near a road in an industrial part of Sulphur, La., a few miles from where he left the Bentley. Rogers sneaked up on Durbin and secured him with little resistance, Louisiana State Police Sgt. James Anderson said.

“Jimmy said (Durbin) was actually worn out,” Anderson said. “He was real thirsty and looking for a place to get clean water. He told us he had a baby alligator swim between his legs in the woods.

“Hiding in South Louisiana is not much brighter than hiding in the woods in South Florida.”

Garrett Rick, a sales consultant with Ambassador Auto Sales, said the Bentley was recovered in good condition. It is expected to arrive today in Naples, where it will be cleaned, detailed and shipped to a buyer in California.

“There’s nothing at all wrong with it. It’s just a little dirty,” Rick said. “That’s directly from the tow truck driver.”

Rick said the buyer, a repeat customer from the West Coast, agreed to purchase the car the day it was stolen.

“We’ve been in touch with him throughout the whole process,” Rick said. “He was on board with still buying it as long as we found the car and it was in good condition.”

Naples police said Durbin drove off in the Bentley after telling Rick he was interested in buying the car. On June 28, Durbin asked Rick to bring the car to an attorney’s office on 5th Avenue South, where his father, “Tom,” was upstairs in a meeting.

Rick said he went into an office to find Durbin and his father. When he didn’t find them, Rick returned to find Durbin in the driver’s seat, speeding off.

Durbin likely stole a set of spare keys kept in the car’s center console during a test drive the previous day, officials said.

The dealership’s staff held out hope that the car would be recovered. Durbin had previously stolen luxury cars and ditched them for different rides, authorities said. A Mercedes sport utility vehicle that authorities said Durbin stole from a St. Charles, Mo., dealership was found in a downtown Naples parking garage.

Word reached Ambassador Auto Sales late Thursday that the stolen Bentley had been recovered — in relatively good shape.

“We were happy to get the car back, and he’ll get what’s coming to him,” Rick said.

Durbin was nearly captured on Wednesday, when Louisiana State Police saw Durbin in the Bentley in Lafayette, La., Anderson said. Durbin led state troopers on a high-speed chase through busy city streets before troopers called off the pursuit, deeming it too dangerous, Anderson said.

“That vehicle was a very fast car and had the potential to reach high speeds, so the troops made the call,” Anderson said.

Troopers arrested Durbin about 75 miles west of Lafayette.

Rick said the dealership has re-examined its practices and made a few changes, including better security of spare keys, Rick said.

“We still want to take care of our clients and want to make it a great buying experience,” he said. “Basically we’re just more cautious about everything.”

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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