Bunnell, FL - Three years after the investigation began, detectives determine that a "stolen car" that ended up in a lake was put there by its owner.
The Flagler County Sheriff's Office says the car's owner, 28-year-old Shawn Barnes, initially called deputies to report the theft of his 2015 Fiat 500 back in December of 2017. He explained to investigators that he left the keys in the car with the door unlocked, which led to it being stolen overnight. Barnes added that he was behind on payments, but he checked with the lienholder and found that the car was not repossessed.
However, in August of this year, a witness contacted FCSO's investigators and informed them that Barnes was responsible for the car's disappearance.
The witness explained that they were with Barnes the day before the car was reported stolen. They said both them and Barnes traveled together in the car to a boat ramp in Putnam County where Barnes placed a rock on the gas pedal, sending the car into a canal where it sank to the bottom. Per the witness statement, Barnes told them that he did it to file a false insurance claim.
On October 21st, both FCSO and deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office located the car through a joint dive team operation. When the car was taken out of the water, detectives found a rock on the driver's side floorboard, the steering wheel had been tied off to a fixture in the car, and the car was still in drive with the keys in the ignition.
Another source later told FCSO that narcotics played a major part in the decision to dump the vehicle in order to avoid making payments.
Barnes was arrested on Tuesday (November 3rd), charged with filing a false insurance claim. His bond was set at $3,000, but Barnes has since bonded out of jail.