Updated:COCOA, Fla. —
On Monday a WFTV report showed how reporter Jeff Deal confronted the owner of a Cocoa parking lot that caters to cruise line customers after he was caught driving a car rented by WFTV.
Now it appears the the lot has shut down.
According to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, some passengers got off their cruise ship Monday evening and said no one from the company picked them up at the port.
The passengers had to take a cab back Premier Parking Spot where they found their keys in the car doors, and no employees anywhere.
Even though Deal showed Jose 'Jay' Nieves, owner of Premier Parking Spot, video of the parking lot owner driving a car rented by WFTV, he denied he's ever taken a customer's car for a joy ride while he thought they were away on a cruise.
"I'm not driving anybody's car," Nieves told Deal.
"That's a customer's car out there," Deal told Nieves, pointing out a 2012 Corvette WFTV rented.
"That is not a customer's car," said Nieves.
"We rented that car. That's our car," said Deal.
"That is not nobody's car. We're not driving anybody's car," said Nieves.
Little did Nieves know WFTV placed a GPS tracking device on the rented car, had a husband and wife drop it off and then followed Nieves as he took it for several rides. He put 61 miles on the car.
WFTV found out what he did is illegal.
"First off it's a crime. If you take a car it's actually a theft," said attorney Paul Byron.
Byron, former federal prosecutor, says someone doesn't have to permanently deprive you of property for it to be considered theft.
"If you entrust your car to me and I use it for my own purposes, even temporarily, that is theft under Florida law," said Byron.
The Brevard County sheriff's office told us the same thing.
WFTV caught up with customers getting dropped at the port and showed them our video.
"What do you think about somebody doing something like that?" Deal asked traveler Tom Caterina.
"It'll peeve me off. I'll tell you, it will make me angry," said Caterina.
Caterina said it's the last thing he and his wife wanted to think about while trying to relax on a cruise.
WFTV learned that Nieves doesn't have a clean driving record.
He had a handful of speeding tickets in 1997 from Broward County, and some in Brevard County in 2005. And he was accused of driving with a suspended license that same year.
Nieves also has a criminal record that includes arrests for battery.
He was arrested and convicted in Miami-Dade County of trafficking kilogram of cocaine in 1991. Police reports show he was carrying a handgun at the time.
WFTV learned, from Brevard County, that Premier Parking Spot doesn't have a business license on file. So, not only shouldn't he have been driving a customer's car, the county says he shouldn't have even been open for business.
Even though taking someone's car is illegal, WFTV decided not to pursue charges against Nieves because our intent was to expose this practice and inform our viewers.
Some employees told WFTV on Tuesday that Nieves told them he was shutting down on Saturday. His landlord says he's in the process of evicting Nieves. But it appears Nieves may have already closed his business.