Lester Schwalm was arrested today in Boynton Beach, Florida for allegedly stealing and SUV that had a baby sitting in the back seat. According to news reports, Schwalm jumped into the SUV’s driver seat while the baby’s family stopped at a Shell gas station. Schwalm has also been charged with grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding, and is likely also facing a charge for driving with a revoked license. (Photo Credit: Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office)
According to news reports, the family pulled their 2010 Buick SUV in to a Shell station. The mom and daughter got out of the vehicle and went inside the convenience. Dad and baby remained with the SUV. However, as soon as dad got out of the vehicle, Lester Schwalm is accused of hopping right into the driver’s seat and taking off with the SUV. Upon seeing what happened, the dad is said to have chased the SUV down as he yelled for someone to call police.
Schwalm may have gotten away from the Shell station, but he didn’t get far. Using a combined force of patrol cars on the ground and a PBSO helicopter in the air, the SUV was located and followed until Schwalm stopped the SUV, jumped out, and ran on foot. He was apprehended shortly thereafter.
Fortunately, the baby inside was recovered without any injury and has been reunited with his family.
According to the PBSO booking blotter, Lester Schwalm has an arrest history that includes trespassing, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property.
Despite his arrest record, the facts of this case make it seem as though Schwalm did not intend to abduct the baby. While I am not excusing his actions, it seems as though he was only motivated by stealing the SUV. However, once he took off, the real question concerns whether or not he realized there was a baby in the back seat. Once he realized there was a baby in the SUV, Schwalm should have pulled over.
This may sound perfectly correct in theory, but I am sure Schwalm was freaking out as he stole the car and was being chased by police.
Regardless, this case sounds like one that may end in jail or prison time for Schwalm and I can’t say I disagree. If Schwalm is smart (and it doesn’t seem like he is), he will plea his case as soon as possible and beg the judge for mercy.
I am sure winning this case at trial is nearly impossible, based on the facts presented in the media. Since winning at trial is unlikely, he has no choice but to plead for mercy.
This case presents an instance of every parent’s worst nightmare and I do not expect Shwalm to get much mercy on this one, especially since he has an arrest record.