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Alleged serial car thief arrested after manhunt

Serial car thief found, arrested for stealing $95K sports car in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The man accused of carjacking a classic sports car while on a test drive in St. Augustine has been arrested after a 10 day search and it's not the first time police said this serial car thief has done it.

Kevin Rellah, 54, was arrested Monday morning in the Argyle Forest area by a U.S. Marshal's Task Force, and according to officials, he is the person of interest wanted in connection with the June 6 carjacking.

Deputies said Rellah went on a test drive with a car salesman from Bozard Ford in St. Augustine and stole a 1965 Ford Shelby Cobra, which was found a few days after the theft. 

The search for Rellah started on June 6 and federal authorities had been watching a home in the Argyle Forest area where he was taken into custody without incident. Deputies said they were able to identify Rellah from this surveillance photo. 

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"We looked into his past and he had a history of allegedly stealing other high end cars, so it was a matter of locating him. We weren't able to locate him locally so we got the U.S. Marshal's Task Force involved," Kevin Kelshaw, with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, said.

Deputies in St. Johns County said a 24-year-old salesman was with Rellah went they went for a test drive. They were discussing the purchase of this 1965 Ford Shelby Cobra, a car valued at nearly $95,000.

Deputies said as the two approached Sherry Lane at U.S. 1 North, Rellah pulled a gun on the salesman.

The salesman called 911 and deputies, along with an air unit, searched for the car.

A St. Johns County resident reported seeing the car on the side of a road, with the keys in the front seat, less than a mile away from where it was taken. 

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Kelshaw said that the help of the Marshall's service was a key component in finally finding and arresting Rellah.

"Anytime that we have someone flee from our area, obviously we can't go into other jurisdictions and pick him up. We tend to use the resources that the U.S. Marshals have. They have a wonderful track record of tracking people down and they were able to give us assistance and locate him and bring him to justice," Kelshaw said.

Rellah, who has a host of aliases including Thomas Gambino, has been arrested in three other states over the last 20 years for car theft and once for possession of a stolen car.

Rellah's arrests start in Rhode Island in 1985 where he was picked up by authorities for possession of a stolen car, but had his sentence suspend.

He was arrested for car theft in Maryland in 1998, but had the charges dropped. Then again in 1998 he was arrested for car theft in New Jersey and served five years in prison.

After getting out of prison Rellah was arrested in Arizona in 2006 and spent 14 months in prison.

While deputies said that the St. Augustine case was still under investigation but that Rellah is being held on a $250,000 bond.