Man with one leg accused of stealing cars

June 6, 2008 9:06:48 PM PDT
Police agree it seems like a very difficult crime for anyone to commit, stealing rental cars right off the lot at the airport, with security all around. But, police say, somehow a Philadelphia man without a right leg, stole five rental cars in less than a month. The suspect is 44 year old Benjamin Copeland. He is accused of stealing five cars in just four weeks from the budget and avis rental car lots at Philadelphia International Airport. Police can't believe he pulled off the crime so many times.

"He was a physically challenged individual who uses crutches and is missing his right leg which makes this even more bizarre because the right leg is key when operating the gas pedal, but somehow he was able to maneuver himself," said Inspector William Colarulo.

This crime took maneuvering. Police say Copeland rode the rental company's shuttle bus to the lot. Somehow he figured out that if he hit a button inside a shuttle bus, the gate on the back exit would go up. Police say he then got into one of the rental SUV's, keys already inside, and drove right out. In early May, he allegedly stole two Ford Expeditions. Then, this past Monday, police say he drove off with one Suv, Tuesday, another and Wednesday, a third. But apparently, he couldn't afford the gas.

"Wherever they ran out of gas was where those cars stayed so they were pretty easy for us to find," inspector Colarulo said.

Copeland, sources say, is well known to police. When Police went to stake out his Grey's Ferry address yesterday, the Suv that was stolen Wednesday, was parked outside. As Copeland went to get into the stolen car he was arrested and sources say, he's confessed.

We're told Copeland told police exactly where to find all the cars. Records show that he has 17 prior arrests, including 5 for robbery, two for auto theft, three for aggravated assault, and 2 for narcotics. He remains behind bars.