Officers with the Long Beach Police Department recently arrested a man who was driving a vehicle reported stolen. The stop occurred on October 12th near 34th Street on Santa Fe Ave in West Long Beach.

According to reports, the vehicle was stolen from a car rental business in Las Vegas. Apparently, the suspect rented the car from the business and decided not to return it. Instead, he’d been using the vehicle to deliver food through a popular delivery service. When the police pulled him over, they found a fresh bag of McDonald’s food in the stolen vehicle and took control of it. After the suspect was arrested, the officers finished his delivery and brought the food to a hungry Long Beach resident.

The suspect was arrested and charged with a single misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking a vehicle, which is covered under California Vehicle Code 10851 VC. In the State of California, it is illegal to take someone else’s vehicle without the owner’s consent.

In order to be charged with violating VC 10851, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following 3 separate elements of the crime are true.

  • The defendant drove or took someone else’s vehicle
  • The vehicle’s owner did not consent to the taking, and
  • The defendant acted with the intent to deny the owner use of the vehicle for a period of time

Violating California Vehicle Code 10851 VC is also known as “joyriding” and is different from the crime of grand theft auto, which is covered under California Penal Code 487(d)(1)PC. Grand theft auto is typically charged when the defendant planned to keep the vehicle permanently or for an extended period of time. “Joyriding,” on the other hand, is typically charged when the defendant only planned to keep the vehicle for a short period of time.

“Joyriding” is a “wobbler” in California that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include up to 1 year in county jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If charged as a felony, the potential penalties are increased to 16 months to 3 years in jail.