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Police say a man used his car trunk for extra passenger space while in downtown Lancaster on Saturday night, Dec. 8.
William Trey Benton, 33, 1635 Winthrop Ave., was arrested that evening on charges of child endangerment, second offense driving under suspension, operating an uninsured vehicle and possession of stolen property.
While working the Lancaster Christmas parade, officers were told by a detective that a red Ford Crown Victoria parked on White Street had a stolen license plate, according to a Lancaster Police Department media report issued Monday.
Officers saw a driver – later identified as Benton – trying to park the Crown Victoria on the side of the street. After an officer activated his blue lights, Benton exited the car and walked toward the officer.
Benton said he didn’t have a driver’s license. He told the officer he was “just getting the car out of traffic” and was going to exchange seats with his son, who has a beginner’s permit.
“Benton told me that the car was his grandfather’s and he was only borrowing it to take the family to the Christmas parade,” the officer wrote in the report.
Officers learned the license plate on the Crown Victoria was assigned to a Chrysler PT Cruiser.
As police arrested Benton, the Crown Victoria trunk opened and four children exited.
Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant said police later learned the children were not forced inside the trunk and were not harmed.
“They were in the trunk because there was no more room in the car,” Grant said.
Their ages weren’t listed, though the report said the youngest is 11 years old. Three are boys and one is a girl.
Scott said all of the children are related to Benton, with two of them being his.
Benton was taken to the Municipal Justice Center, where he was booked and jailed. Scott said Benton was released on bond, though he didn’t know the amount.
Police said the Department of Social Services is getting a copy on the incident report for review.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152