Police arrest woman found in car

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin said a career criminal was behind the theft of a luxury car from his driveway.

Police found the 2008 Lexus LS last week, a day after airing surveillance video of the theft. Security cameras at Hamlin's house caught two men walking up the driveway Aug. 18 and leaving in the $50,000 car.

The car was spotted last week in Charlotte, police ran the license plate and determined it was Hamlin's. Tomaceeta Hampton was charged with possessing a stolen vehicle and released on $15,000 bond.

But Hamlin said Friday that police told him the mastermind of the heist has been arrested multiple times for car theft, including an arrest several years ago for stealing a car from NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs' garage. Hamlin and Gibbs live on the same street in Cornelius, N.C.

Hamlin did not know the man's name, and the arrest report lists only Hampton.

"I guess he's stolen about 30 cars in his life, which, you've got to wonder why he keeps getting out," Hamlin said at Richmond International Raceway. "But yeah, I guess it was the same guy who stole Joe's car six or eight years ago."

The Lexus, which was a courtesy vehicle owned by Toyota Motorsales, was filthy when Hamlin picked it up from police impound.

"It was bad. The car was bad," Hamlin said. "I think they probably lived in it, to be honest."