Drunken Joyride

LAKEWOOD – A Jamestown man was remanded to Chautauqua County Jail after police say he was driving drunk in a stolen vehicle Wednesday morning.

James C. Schnars III, 42, is facing numerous charges, including felony fourth-degree grand larceny and driving while intoxicated. Lakewood-Busti police officer Tim Riley stopped a 2000 Ford SUV on Fairdale Avenue at 12:40 a.m. for speeding and not having license plates.

Following an investigation, police say Schnars was intoxicated and allegedly stole the vehicle from National Auto Distributors, a used car dealership located on West Fairmount Avenue in Lakewood.

The Jamestown man was taken into custody and later sent to jail on $20,000 cash bail, $40,000 property. He faces additional charges of third-degree possession of stolen property, unregistered motor vehicle, uninspected motor vehicle, refusal to submit to a pre-screen test, no license plates and uninsured motor vehicle.

Schnars is due back in Busti Town Court at a later date.

“We’re very pleased with our officers who took a proactive approach to stopping Mr. Schnars,” said Sgt. Paul Gustafson of the Lakewood-Busti Police Department. “The dealership had no idea one of their vehicles had been taken.”

A National Auto spokesman said the SUV sustained no damage in the early morning incident, and he was not sure how Schnars managed to take the vehicle.

“All we know is that this guy came in the middle of the night and took the truck,” he said. “I’m not sure what he did in terms of keys.”

The vehicle remained in police possession Wednesday.

According to court records, Schnars was scheduled to appear in Ellicott Town Court on Aug. 19 stemming from a previous drunken driving incident. Police on March 12 observed Schnars coming into the village at 72 mph in a 30-mph zone, and was allegedly found to be intoxicated. He was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, reckless driving, speeding, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated.

And on Jan. 21, Schnars was charged with petit larceny after police said he stole items from Tim Hortons and fled the area. He was later found and taken into custody.