A Concord dealership employee claims that an unidentified man kidnapped him and stole a 2015 Chevy van during what was supposed to be a test drive of the vehicle. Allegedly, when the man started off on the test drive, he informed the employee that he was actually stealing the car and taking the employee with him. The supposed victim was able to escape when the 2 stopped in Pittsburg and members of the Antioch police force were able to apprehend the suspect later that day. He was charged with theft of a vehicle, kidnapping, and resisting arrest.
California law is strict when it comes to the theft of a vehicle. In fact, the crime (more commonly known as ‘grand theft automobile’), actually consists of 2 different charges. Frist, under California Penal Code 487(d)(1), it is considered ‘grand theft’ when an individual steals property valued over $950. Second, the theft of a vehicle (CA Vehicle Code 10851) is the crime often referred to as ‘joyriding.’ Depending upon the length of time an individual seems to plan to take the vehicle, either or both offenses could apply. If you planned to take the vehicle for a short period of time, you will likely be charged with ‘joyriding,’ whereas if you planned to take the vehicle permanently, you will be charged with its theft.
Both crimes are California ‘wobblers,’ meaning that the decision as to whether to treat it as a misdemeanor or as a felony is left up to prosecutors to determine, based on the facts of the individual case. For example, when a person steals a vehicle, they are normally charged with felony GTA and could face up to 3 years in county jail. However, joyriding is most often treated as a misdemeanor, carrying with it a potential $5,000 fine and a term of 1 year in county.