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Accessory arrested in vintage car theft case

Police: Serial car thief accused of stealing $95K car in St. Augustine had help

Booking photos of Kevin Rellah, left, and James Madden, who were arrested in connection with a vintage car theft in St. Augustine.
Booking photos of Kevin Rellah, left, and James Madden, who were arrested in connection with a vintage car theft in St. Augustine.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man accused of carjacking a classic sports car while on a test drive in St. Augustine had help dumping the car after the theft, police said.

Kevin Rellah, 54, was arrested by a U.S. Marshal's Task Force in the Argyle Forest area after a 10-day search.

On Friday, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office announced that James Francis Madden, 47, was also arrested in connection with the theft. Madden is charged with being an accessory after the fact and principal grand theft.

Deputies said Madden turned himself in Thursday evening and was released after posting $25,000 bond.

Deputies said Rellah went on a test drive June 6 with a 24-year-old car salesman from Bozard Ford in St. Augustine and stole a 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.

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Madden is charged with concealing the vintage replica sports car and helping Rellah out of the neighborhood. He's also accused of driving and abandoning the Shelby Cobra (pictured) at the end of Stokes Landing Road, where it was found a few days after the theft.

Deputies said they were able to identify Rellah from a surveillance photo. He has a host of aliases, including Thomas Gambino, and 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 started in Rhode Island in 1985, when 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.

Rellah has been moved from the Duval County Jail, where he was being held after his arrest in Argyle Forest, to the St. Johns County Jail. He is being held on $250,000 bond and a new fugitive warrant has been issued for him out of Connecticut, stemming from a 2006 theft of a pickup truck valued at $50,000 at the time.