A Pace man drove off of Milton Chevrolet’s car lot Saturday in a Grand Cherokee – right in front of employees – and took it home.

Sheriff’s deputies filed a report saying Kevin Padgett, 33, Santa Villa Dr., Pace, asked to test drive a dark blue 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. He was asked to produce his driver’s license before taking the vehicle, according to the report.

An employee told sheriff’s officials Padgett was standing next to her, going through his wallet when he suddenly jumped behind the driver’s seat and drove away.

Deputies arrived at the dealership and were told Padgett drove south on Avalon Blvd, according to the report. An employee from Lou Sobh Milton Chevrolet told deputies he recognized Padgett from a local business establishment, but could only remember his first name. Reports say Padgett had mentioned in the past he was an ex-con, so the employee used Florida Department of Corrections website photos to identify Padgett.

In the meantime, a patrol Sgt. reported he was parked on the side the road at the 4300 block Avenida De Golf in Santa Villa when Padgett approached in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, swerving toward the squad car as though he were going to ram it.

After Padgett swerved away and missed the patrol car, the Sgt. turned on his lights and went after the man, chasing him for .4 of a mile, reports say

Hall took Padgett into custody at the corner of Jenny Circle and Santa Villa Dr.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee was parked in the yard where Padgett lives. It was missing the left front and rear left tires, and the rims were “ground down”, with damage to the undercarriage of the vehicle.

Padgett was arrested and charged with vehicle theft; assault; probation violation; property damage/criminal mischief; and flee/eluding police. He was being held on $9,500 bond late Monday.