Authorities say he’s pulled off a series of brazen luxury car heists, joyriding from Indiana to Florida in Mercedes-Benzes.
Tuesday in Naples, police believe Justin William Durbin may have struck again and upped the ante, ditching a stolen $43,000 Mercedes sport utility vehicle for a $97,900 Bentley.
It would be at least the fourth case in as many weeks, leaving a twisting trail from the Midwest to Florida of stolen, then abandoned, high-priced vehicles.
Naples police have not officially named the 22-year-old Durbin as a suspect, however Tuesday’s incident report includes his full name, and that theft matches the details of previous encounters in three other states, including one in Illinois where a warrant is out for his arrest.
A man who identified himself as Durbin — he used Durbin’s Oklahoma driver’s license and resembled him — looked at several cars at Ambassador Auto Sales in East Naples on Monday.
“We’d worked with him a couple days. It was a pretty legit story,” said Garrett Rick, the dealership’s sales consultant.
Durbin arrived in a red 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 SUV with Florida tags. He was clean cut and “dressed like a hipster,” Rick said.
According to a warrant out for Durbin’s arrest, he is white, 5 foot 11 inches, 150 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a light complexion.
But beyond what he looked like, it’s the car he drove to the dealership that made the impression.
“If he’s got one $60,000 car, we’re going to give him all the time he needs,” Rick said. “He was not outside the realm of possibility whatsoever for the kind of customers we deal with... I’ve seen crazier. That all lined up.”
Durbin returned Tuesday to look specifically at the gray 2007 Bentley GT Continental. He would need to get a check from a local bank to pay for it, he told Rick.
He test drove the car and arranged to meet Rick in downtown Naples — with the Bentley.
“He said he just moved from Oklahoma,” Rick said. “He had a big story that was believable.”
Durbin said that his father, Tom, had shut down his real estate company in Oklahoma and moved to Miami. He was in a meeting on Fifth Avenue South, Durbin said, so they arranged for Rick to take the car from the dealership on Davis Boulevard to the 600 block of Fifth Avenue South, where Rick parked it on the street.
Rick then said he locked the car and went to look for Durbin and his father in a nearby office. When he didn’t find them, he headed back to the Bentley.
Durbin was already in the driver’s seat.
“As I was coming back down, he was bolting,” Rick said.
He waited optimistically for 10 minutes. He hoped Durbin had taken the Bentley for a test drive. Rick then called cell phone numbers he had for Durbin and “Tom,” however the calls went to voicemail.
“I take most of the guilt on it,” Rick said. “I was the last line of defense on it.”
The stolen Bentley does not have GPS or any tracking device.
Rick said he believes Durbin stole a spare set of keys kept in the car’s center console during an earlier test drive.
The red Mercedes SUV Durbin had driven to the dealership was found by one of the business’s mechanics, Rick said. It was parked on the top floor of a downtown parking garage. Inside were clothes, a laptop, and paperwork from Ambassador Auto Sales and other area dealerships, he said.
And Durbin is no stranger to dealerships.
Police suspect that in early June, Durbin drove off in a 2003 Mercedes SL 500 from a Fishers, Ind., dealership. An employee said Durbin stole keys to the car and returned in the evening. Similar to the Naples incident, he also mentioned needing his father’s approval for the car.
Durbin is believed to have ditched that car in Naperville, Ill., where police said he swapped it for a black 2003 Mercedes SL 55 AMG that he took out for a test drive.
He never returned.
Naperville police confirmed they have a warrant out for his arrest in relation to that theft.
On June 20, the Naperville Mercedes was left in St. Charles, Mo., and a man who identified himself as Durbin took off from a dealership in the Mercedes SUV found in Naples on Tuesday.
The total value of the four cars approaches $250,000, authorities said.
“This guy’s been traveling all over the country, test driving cars. He just always forgets to bring them back,” joked Lieutenant Craig McGuire, a spokesman for the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office.
The cars in the first three incidents have either been returned to the dealerships, or are in the process of being returned.
A woman who answered the phone at a Michigan address listed as Durbin’s residence in 2009 confirmed she was related to him. She deferred questions to St. Charles Sheriff’s Office detective Bret Jansen, who identified her as his grandmother.
Jansen said that from his conversations with her, he gleaned that Durbin began having problems a year and a half ago.
“We’re not sure how to go about stopping this kid,” Jansen said. “He’s onto some of our gimmicks.”
Durbin’s grandmother said there was “a lot” she would like to know about what has been going on.
Durbin also has open cases against him in Alachua County for nine felony counts for larceny, dealing in stolen property, and fraud. The incidents occurred in March and May of this year.
The “catch me if you can” antics from Florida, across the Mississippi River, and back lead Naperville police spokesman Sergeant Gregg Bell to say Durbin has “an adventurous spirit.”
“But he’s gotta run out of road sometime.”