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Cops: Man Reports SUV Stolen After Crashing Into Ditch, Leaving the Scene

Hopatcong resident claimed he made up the story because he didn't have car insurance, police said.

Steven Averett (Photo: Hopatcong Police Department)
Steven Averett (Photo: Hopatcong Police Department)
A Hopatcong man who crashed his SUV into a ditch on Interstate 80 tried to report the vehicle was stolen from in front of his house, police said.

Steven Averett, 26, was charged with fourth-degree unsworn falsification to authorities, fourth-degree operating a motor vehicle while suspended from a DWI, providing a false report to a police officer, driving while suspended, no insurance and for an unregistered vehicle.

Averett called the Hopatcong Police Department on Feb. 4 to report his Jeep was stolen from outside his River Styx Road home, Lt. Thomas Kmetz said. Averett said the vehicle was unlocked and the keys were left inside, Kmetz said.

According to Kmetz, Averett claimed he walked to the Quick Chek where his mother picked him up. Averett spent the night at his mother's house and when he returned home the next morning discovered the Jeep gone, Kmetz said.

However, an investigation revealed the State Police had found the vehicle deserted in a ditch along I-80 with the doors locked and no keys inside, Kmetz said.

After police advised Averett's mother they would review the security footage from the Quick Chek to verify her son's account, she admitted the story was fabricated, according to Kmetz.

Averett's mother said her son asked her to lie to police, Kmetz said. Averett then cooperated with police and admitted he crashed the vehicle on I-80 and left the scene because he didn't have insurance, Kmetz said.

Averett was charged and released.

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