Couple sought for theft of grandmother’s car

Jon Johnson File Photo

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A man and woman are sought by police for theft of means of transportation after they neglected to return a car to the woman’s grandmother after a month of using it.

According to Safford Police reports, Joshua Benninger, 30, and Shantel Torrio are wanted by police for theft of means of transportation after failing to return a car to Torrio’s 89-year-old grandmother.

On Dec. 27, the grandmother told police she had originally allowed Torrio to borrow her car on Dec. 1, 2020, to drive to Phoenix due to a medical emergency regarding Torrio’s newborn child. According to the grandmother, the child was born with complications due to Torrio’s heroin use and was subsequently taken by the Department of Child Services.

Weeks after the car was loaned, Torrio and Benninger still had not returned it and the victim requested assistance from the police. The victim said she has been left with no means of transportation and has had to cancel multiple appointments.

The officer contacted Benninger by phone, and Benninger allegedly admitted to driving the car at that very time. Benninger said the victim had allowed them to borrow the car on Dec. 1 and that she let them borrow it again on Dec. 14 when they had returned to Safford from Phoenix.

A previous police report had been made on Dec. 21, when Benninger told another officer that he would return the car as soon as possible. A week passed, however, and the car had not yet been returned.

Benninger reportedly replied that Torrio was going through heroin treatment in Phoenix and that they would return the car within the next week as soon as they could get their affairs in order and transfer Torrio’s suboxone treatments to a Safford clinic.

When the officer contacted the victim to see if she had given Benninger and Torrio further permission to use her car on Dec. 14, she said she doesn’t remember but it was possible because she has trouble remembering things due to her age. The victim then reiterated that she just wanted her car back.

The officer then spoke with Benniger again, and Benninger allegedly promised the officer that they would return the car by 3 p.m. on Dec. 28. However, the car was not returned by Dec. 28, and the officer’s attempts to contact Benninger and Torrio were unsuccessful.

The car was then entered as a stolen vehicle, and the officer forwarded his report to the Graham County Attorney’s Office requesting charges of unlawful use of means of transportation be filed against both Benninger and Torrio.