LINCOLN, Maine — A town man learned in an unfortunate manner that the next time he borrows a relative’s car, perhaps he should tell her first, make sure there’s enough gas in the tank, and definitely avoid leaving a friend asleep in the back seat, police said Tuesday.
Stephen Senberg, 25, was charged Monday with unauthorized use of property, operating under suspension and failure to notify officials of an accident by the quickest means, all misdemeanors, Officer David Cram said.
The incident began when Officer John Walsh discovered a 2003 Kia Spectra off Lee Road near White Point Estates Road about 5 a.m. Monday. Walsh also found a man, Matthew Ferris, asleep in the back seat and possibly intoxicated, Cram said.
“The car reeked of alcohol,” Cram said.
Walsh had begun to investigate the incident but was almost at the end of his shift, so Cram took over at about 6 a.m. Cram noticed that the vehicle had some minor front-end damage but appeared drivable. He had it towed to the Public Safety Building.
Cram said he was beginning to suspect that Ferris had stolen the car when he received a call from the owner of the car.
The woman reported at about 8:30 a.m. that the car had been stolen from her driveway on Penny Lane, Cram said.
Cram was trying to determine whether Ferris was a car thief or an innocent passenger and whether the woman had any culpability in the matter when Senberg stepped forward, Cram said.
“When it became clear that his friend was a suspect,” Cram said of Senberg, “he volunteered that he was actually the one who had taken the car.”
Senberg said he couldn’t allow Ferris to be arrested for something he didn’t do, Cram said.
Senberg admitted having taken the vehicle from the woman’s driveway “because he wanted to go for a ride,” Cram said. With Ferris along for the ride, the two ended up on a dirt road somewhere near Lee Road toward Lee, where Senberg admitted that he hit a log or some other obstruction, causing the minor front-end damage, Cram said.
Senberg claimed he had turned the vehicle around and was headed home when it ran out of fuel. He then abandoned the car, and Ferris, and walked home to the woman’s house, Cram said.
The story from Senberg, who was released on a promise to appear in Lincoln District Court on Nov. 22, was a novel twist in a strange story, Cram said.
“I didn’t think it would turn out that way at all,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained a spelling error. In the sixth paragraph Officer David Cram was referred to as Crume. His last name is Cram.