Lester Schwalm Convicted of Stealing SUV and Leading Police Chase With Baby in the Backseat
|Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office|
|When Lester Schwalm steals SUVs, he prefers to ignore the possibility babies in the backseat.|
Lester Edward Schwalm, however, did just that last year, and a jury convicted him Thursday on three charges related to his stolen baby/stolen SUV escapade.
On December 16, 2010, a man and his fiancée left their Buick Enclave SUV running while they went into a Boynton Beach gas station, and also left their 5-week-old son sleeping in his car seat in the back of the car, according to an arrest affidavit.
That's when Schwalm hopped in the driver's seat and took off down Boynton Beach Boulevard, while the boy's father chased his car and baby down, banging on the window and begging for Schwalm to give him back the boy.
Instead, Schwalm kept driving, eventually starting a police chase.
Schwalm was speeding, ran a red light, drove onto a sidewalk, and weaved in and out of traffic before driving onto Interstate 95, when the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office helicopter joined the chase.
Schwalm drove off of the Interstate a few exits later, before ditching the car in a parking lot and attempting to run away before being caught by the cops.
The baby, who was along for the ride in the backseat the whole time, was returned without any injuries.
At the Boynton Beach Police Department, Schwalm admitted to the cops that he'd stolen the car and pocketed stuff within their car, but said he had no idea there was a baby in the backseat -- despite the boy's father banging on the window asking for his son back.
Schwalm was found guilty of grand theft of a motor vehicle, burglary of an occupied conveyance, and fleeing or attempting to elude with high-speed recklessness.
At his September 23 sentencing, Schwalm faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
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