Homeless Man in Florida Steals Van with Non-Verbal Wheelchair Passenger While Driver Was in the Liquor Store – Both Arrested
John Peloquin, 46, a homeless man from New Hampshire vacationing in Florida, is in the St. Lucie County jail after he stole a van with a nonverbal man in a wheelchair inside while the driver stepped out to go to the Liquor Store.
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Port St. Lucie Police were dispatched to a convenience store in the 900 block of SW Bayshore Boulevard about a stolen vehicle.
Upon arrival, they were informed that a van that a group home employee drove had been stolen with a person still inside.
The van was being driven by a group home employee named Ernso Oge, 65, and it had a 55-year-old man, who was nonverbal and sitting in a wheelchair in the back of the van.
Oge was going to the bowling alley when he stopped at a liquor store. He got out of the vehicle and left it unlocked with the engine running while he went into the store. Peloquin then got into the van and drove off. The theft was caught on surveillance video.
Peloquin later abandoned the 2014 Dodge Caravan wheelchair van with the passenger still in it. A 911 call came in from a citizen that helped police find the van and the man inside near SE Floresta Drive and SE Naranja Avenue. The man had been checked out by emergency personnel, and officials said he was unharmed.
Police identified Peloquin as the suspect and found him on Facebook. Homeless, and on Facebook, what a country. The police messaged him on Facebook messenger. They sent him a picture of them in uniform to show Peloquin it wasn’t a joke. Peloquin admitted to stealing the van and told them he was homeless. He told police he only stole the vehicle to get back to New Hampshire, and he didn’t see the man sitting in the back when he took the van.
HAPPENING NOW!! Detectives have arrested 46-Year-Old John Peloquin of New Hampshire for stealing vehicle yesterday with wheelchair bound victim inside. Currently enroute to jail and charged with grand theft of a vehicle and abuse of a disabled adult. More details on our FB. pic.twitter.com/av8AG7slF8
— Port St. Lucie PD (@PSLPolice) January 31, 2023
Arrest made in connection with Monday theft of van with wheelchair bound man still inside. @PSLPolice took this picture of 46 year old John Peloquin of New Hampshire. pic.twitter.com/ehJ2UbCCtZ
— Jon Shainman (@JonShainman) January 31, 2023
Peloquin met up with police at Port Salerno to surrender, and they took him into custody. He was transported to the St. Lucie County jail and charged with grand theft of an automobile and abuse of a disabled adult Without harm. Peloquin is still locked up in lieu of a $10,000 bond.
“He was very forthcoming with us when we made contact with him. And he provided a full confession. He was remorseful. You know, he obviously had no intention of hurting the gentleman, which I’m thankful for because this could have turned out a whole different way,” said Assistant Police Chief Richard Del Toro.
I am in shock. I’m really upset about it. This is unacceptable. Zero tolerance,” group home owner Anid Etienne said.
Etienne added that Oge was fired immediately after being informed about the incident.
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Ernso Oge was charged with neglect of a disabled adult. He was arrested the day after Peloquin and transported to the St Lucie County Jail. He was being held in lieu of a $2,500 bond and paid his bond later that day.
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