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So many absurd news stories begin with “Florida Man” that some comedians joke they are all the responsibility of one rambunctious man from Florida. If that were true, he’s called 911 for a ride to Hooters, jammed a rack of ribs in his pants to steal it from the buffet, been arrested for trying to get an Alligator drunk, and cartwheeled away from the police to escape. But, Florida Man might have outdone all his previous escapades when he stole an entire locomotive!

According to authorities, someone had the bright idea to break in to a locomotive parked at the Florida Central Railroad train yard. Unlike your daily commuter, locomotives are just locked with a regular padlock on the door of the cab. Florida Man may even have slipped in through a broken window.

So how hard is it to hot-wire a diesel locomotive? I’ve never tried. But I imagine like most expensive equipment, new locomotives have some manner of theft deterrents. But the bright red EMD GP 18 in question was built in 1959, and Florida Man soon had it running.

The crossed railroad crossing sign and red stop lights at a track.
Railroad crossing | Michael Hutchinson

Florida Man was better at getting into the train and starting it than he was at operating it. His joy ride had a bumpy start. I expect he just mashed buttons until the thing moved because he did $60,000 in damage to various switches and controls. Wowza.

But once the train thief was rolling, nothing would stop him. He smashed through a chain-link fence that was in his way. Then he somehow got across a busy intersection and out into town. Florida Man cruised for seven miles, crossing several more intersections, before he got bored of Grand Theft Loco. Then he shut the train down and left it in the tracks before wandering off to some other adventure. Wrestling alligators, I assume.

What’s incredible is that two years later, police still don’t have any leads on the identity of the locomotive thief. Looks like Florida Man got away clean. Although, I suppose, this could have been the work of Florida Man’s sometimes accomplice: Florida Woman. We may never know.

As amusing as the story is, don’t try this at home kids. This train thief could have killed motorists at any of the intersections where he attempted an unscheduled road crossing. And abandoning the locomotive on the tracks was incredibly irresponsible, it could have derailed another oncoming train if not discovered early enough. Let’s hope Florida Man sticks to safer shenanigans in the future.

Next, learn how a Florida woman had her entire driveway stolen…by Florida Man. you can also see some of the craziest things Florida Man has ever done in the video below: