One would think that this car thief, Antioch resident 44-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), would have known better than to try to escape the police by trying to hide under a nearby home’s pool house, but he didn’t. In fact, after local law enforcement officials found the car he’d stolen out on Highway 60 close to Oakley, they assumed that he’d walked or run somewhere nearby. In fact, the driver did try to escape and was eventually found under the pool house by a K-9 unit that was brought out during the search. Police had to call for reinforcements in the form of the Contra Costa Fire Department, who tried, along with the officers present, to get him to come out. In the end, however, they had to resort to drastic measures, mainly digging a trench under the house and dragging him out with a rope. After being removed from his hiding place, he was arrested on charges of grand theft auto.
In the state of California, the theft of an automobile is either considered ‘grand theft’ (CA Penal Code 487(d)(1)) or ‘joyriding’ (CA Vehicle Code 10851). In order to be convicted of ‘grand theft’ (the more serious offense of the two), prosecutors must be able to prove that you intended to keep the car for an extended period of time. Alternately, if you can prove that you did not intend to keep the vehicle for an extended period of time (or permanently) then you may be charged instead with ‘joyriding.’ If you are convicted of ‘grand theft,’ you may face up to 3 years in county jail and a maximum $10,000 fine; however, if you are convicted of ‘joyriding,’ you may face only 1 year in county jail and a possible fine of $5,000. Additionally, there are sentencing enhancements for cars of a higher value than most and for joyriding in a public service vehicle like a police car, an ambulance, or the car of someone who is displaying a disabled placard.