Judge: Stealing tourist’s car not funny

LIHU‘E — A Kapa‘a man was reminded of the impact he made on the community by ruining the vacation experience of visitors when he took their rental car on a binge-drinking escapade.

Beau Evan Lofton was arrested on Oct. 29 for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. He was indicted on Jan. 12, and pleaded no contest on July 7.

The victims were a couple who had just arrived on Kaua‘i, and drove directly from the airport to the hotel. A wallet with $252 in cash along with other identification remained in the car and wound up missing after the vehicle was abandoned.

Before sentencing on Sept. 13, Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Randal Valenciano addressed Lofton, saying if he had ever traveled then he would understand that people don’t want bad things to happen.

Valenciano said the victims might have spent their entire savings on this vacation and that the incident ruined their experience. He said the couple would likely not want to return to Kaua‘i again.

“I don’t think that what you did was funny,” Valenciano said. “What kind of role model do you want to be for your children?”

State-appointed defense attorney Michael Soong said Lofton has taken responsibility for actions he described as a one-night lapse of judgment. Lofton has joined Alcoholics Anonymous, is still holding his full-time job and his partner is expecting a child, Soong said.

“I am sorry for my actions,” Lofton said.

Soong said Lofton drank too much and got into a car and drove off. He emphasized that Lofton could not tell police where the car was when they came to his door because he had no memory of the event.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Wendel Crutchfield said Lofton’s clean record and past good standing in the community is without question. However, he offered a different account of the crime based on witness reports and said the state takes pause with intent and state of mind during the crime as presented by the defense.

Lofton was having a phone conversation and witnesses described him as someone coherent of his words and actions, he said. Lofton waited until the couple drove to the hotel entrance, and as they checked in, turned to say, “Watch this,” to bystanders before driving off with the vehicle.

Crutchfield acknowledged that the visitor’s wallet might well have been taken by someone else when the car was left unsecured by Lofton after he abandoned the vehicle.

Lofton was sentenced to five years probation, 10 days in jail and 300 hours of community service. He was granted a deferment of sentencing if he complies to probation guidelines.

The conditions include an alcohol and substance abuse assessment, with any required treatment as determined by tests. He is also ordered not to patron any establishment with a primary business of selling alcohol.

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