PUNTA GORDA — A Cape Coral man has been arrested in connection to a car theft from October.
John Christopher Riddle, 35, was implicated in the theft after he allegedly attempted to cash checks left inside the vehicle, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
The initial theft was reported on Oct. 5. According to the arrest report, deputies received a call that a blue 2002 Ford F-150 had been stolen from a residence on Gasparilla Avenue.
Canvassing local camera footage, it was estimated by CCSO that the theft occurred between noon and 5 p.m. on Oct. 4.
During the investigation, CCSO received a tip from the Punta Gorda Police Department: the F-150 had been “involved” in an attempted fraudulent transaction on Oct. 4 at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 10001 Burnt Store Road.
According to authorities, security footage from the bank showed a man enter the building at approximately 3:45 p.m. and attempt to cash a check using another person’s driver’s license and debit card for identification.
The check, however, was made out a deceased individual, and the bank clerk did not process the transaction.
The clerk in the video attempted to withhold the documents from the man.
The man, in turn, grabs the clerk’s keys and allegedly holds them hostage for the documents. After retrieving the documents, the man leaves the bank.
A bystander to the exchange managed to take a photograph of the man’s vehicle before he left, which was how law enforcement said the vehicle was identified at the bank.
According to the arrest report, the complainant said that he purchased the vehicle several months ago. It was determined that some items had been left in the car before then.
CCSO said that Riddle was identified as a suspect by virtue of a “distinct tattoo” — the tattoo on his chest in a social media photo matched one seen on the suspect in the bank security footage.
Riddle was initially tracked with a North Fort Myers residence and his image was relayed to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The arrest report stated that a Lee County deputy — who said that they had previous encounters with Riddle — positively identified him as the suspect and provided CCSO with a sworn written statement to that effect.
Riddle is charged with two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, as well as one count each of criminal use of a deceased person’s ID, robbery by sudden snatching with no firearm or weapon, and using a forged instrument. He is currently held at Charlotte County jail on $50,000 bond.
His case is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 20.