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Canadian man tries to trade in stolen car, lights dealership on fire instead

Suspect arrested; search of vehicle reveals Molotov cocktails

Sanjeev Grewal, 36, attempted to trade in a rental car for a new vehicle and later returned to dealership to light several cars on fire. (2019)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A Canadian man tried to trade in his rental car to purchase a new car before later torching several new vehicles at a local dealership, investigators said.

On Friday, Sanjeev Grewal, 36, dropped by the Mercedes-Benz of Miami dealership located at 1200 NW 167th Street in Miami Gardens.

Grewal met with a Mercedes salesperson and explained that he’d like to trade in his “stolen” car and finance a new vehicle, Miami Gardens police officers said.

The sales associate alerted a dealership manager who took a picture of the vehicle, Grewal’s Canadian driver’s license and Grewal himself, a witness said.

Dealership management searched Grewal’s vehicle identification number and learned that the car was rented in September in Las Vegas at an Enterprise Rent-a-Car and not reported stolen, investigators said.

After his request for a trade-in was denied, Grewal left without incident.

Just after 3 a.m. Saturday, dealership video cameras showed Grewal pull up in the same rental car he attempted to trade in hours earlier.

Grewal hopped a fence and appeared to pour a liquid on a vehicle parked in the dealership sales lot before lighting an object on fire and tossing it at the vehicle, investigators said.

The vehicle was immediately engulfed in flames. It and two nearby vehicles were completely destroyed and three other vehicles were damaged. According to investigators, the total estimated damage to the vehicles in the sales lot was $300,000.

Grewal ran back to his rental vehicle and drove off, investigators said.

Just after 7 a.m., Miami Beach police officers were called to the Design Hotel located at 6800 Collins Avenue where Grewal was involved in an unrelated disturbance, officers said.

Upon making contact with Grewal, Miami Beach police officers noticed a very strong odor of gasoline in his hotel room and on him.

Miami Beach police officers were alerted by hotel staff that Grewal’s vehicle was parked on the property. A search of the vehicle revealed a strong odor of gasoline, as well as empty bottles with paper wicks that resembled Molotov cocktails, investigators said.

Miami Beach police officers Baker Acted Grewal and took him to the Mount Sinai Hospital for an evaluation, investigators said.

Working with Miami Beach officers, as well as information from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, Miami Gardens police officers took Grewal into custody following his release from the hospital Monday.

Grewal, a Canadian citizen, is facing charges that include second-degree arson and criminal mischief.


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