Car theft in San Francisco (CA Penal Code §487(d)(1))

Rabin Nabizadeh
April 5, 2013

An unknown thief managed to steal a Yellow Cab taxi near San Francisco State University and then take it on a joy ride – leaving a hefty fare for the cabbie to contend with.  The cab was left with the engine running at  the corner of Banbury St. and Denslowe Dr. when the driver got out to assist an ill passenger into the vehicle.  Someone jumped in and took the yellow Ford Escape for a lengthy joy ride – with several police officers in a slow chase behind them after the car was reported near South of Market.  The joyrider drove quite a distance – all the way to Pacifica – and back to where he or she had stolen the cab at SFSU.  After hitting a parked car, the suspect ran away on foot and has yet to be identified, although local law enforcement officials are hopeful that the cab’s surveillance cameras will provide them with some answers sooner or later.

Even though “Grand Theft Auto” is a popular video game that many of us have enjoyed from time to time, the state of California takes the crime very seriously.   The penalties for car theft are simply not worth the risk of taking a joyride.  You can actually be charged with one or both of two different crimes if you decide to steal a car CA Penal Code §487(d)(1) and CA Vehicle Code 10851.  It all depends on whether you intend to keep the car permanently or to return it after “borrowing” it for a while. For this joyrider, a charge under CA VC 10851 is most likely as it covers unlawfully taking or driving a vehicle for the purposes of joyriding.  Technically, the crime of joyriding is a “wobbler” in California and if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could pay up to $5,000 in fines and spend up to 1 year in county jail.  If you are charged with felony joyriding, you could spend 16 months to 3 years in jail.