Rantoul man arrested for stealing car with 3 children inside

RANTOUL — A Rantoul man is scheduled to appear in court on Friday following his arrest for stealing a car that had three small children in it.

It was his second arrest for motor vehicle theft this week.

According to a Rantoul police report, officers were called to J.W. Eater Junior High School at 10:09 a.m. Thursday to respond to a report of a vehicle theft. Witnesses said that three children, ages 9 months, 5 and 9, were in the vehicle when it was stolen.

Following a search by Rantoul police, an officer found the children near Veterans Parkway and Chanute Street.

"The children were visibly shaken, but physically unharmed during the incident," said Sgt. Justin Bouse. "It was later learned the suspect had dropped the children off near the Rantoul Youth Center and told them to call police. The children, however, began walking back toward the area in which they came."

Meanwhile, a Rantoul police investigator began checking rural areas of Champaign and Vermilion counties and spotted the vehicle in western Vermilion County, heading south on the Potomac-Collison Road.

The investigator followed the vehicle to Oakwood, where Vermilion County sheriff's deputies were waiting to help. As soon as the vehicle entered Oakwood, they pulled the vehicle over near the intersection of Oakwood Street and Finley Street.

The driver was identified as Kevin Lefever, 18, who listed an address in the 200 block of Winding Lane in Rantoul.

Lefever said he stole the vehicle without knowing there were children inside it. When he realized the children were there, he dropped them off at the Rantoul Youth Center and said he intended to drive the car to Fort Wayne, Ind.

Police arrested Lefever for motor vehicle theft and child endangerment.

This was the second time Lefever was arrested for motor vehicle theft in Rantoul.

At 12:30 a.m. Monday, police were called to The Linden Banquet Center in Rantoul after receiving a report of a stolen vehicle.

Police used OnStar to track the Chevrolet SUV headed away from Rantoul near the Champaign-Vermilion county line.

Rantoul and Gifford police headed that way and stopped the car about 7 miles from Penfield in Vermilion County.

The driver, identified as Lefever, said he found the SUV with the keys unlocked. He initially planned to take it to a probation appointment in Urbana. But, since he was going to be late for the appointment, he decided to take the SUV for a joyride.

Lefever was charged on Tuesday with felony receiving, possessing or selling a stolen vehicle.

He is due back in court on that case on July 18.

tmitchel@news-gazette.com

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