A news reporter doing a story on a rental scam became the victim of a grand theft auto when the subject of his investigation became annoyed with the reporter’s persistence.
The reporter was investigating a Sarasota woman suspected of running a rental property scam. The woman became irritated with the reporter and got into the driver seat and drove the reporter’s car down the road.
The woman walked back shortly after driving the car maybe five hundred feet. However, the reporter contacted police and made a report.
Even though the woman only drove the car a few hundred feet and had possession of the car for maybe two or three minutes, the crime of grand theft auto, also known as grand theft of a vehicle, is committed when a person “permanently or temporarily depriving” the alleged victim of their property. Even getting into the car and taking it without the owner’s permission for a short period of time can constitute the commission of the crime.
Grand theft auto in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
No word so far on whether the police or prosecutors in Sarasota are taking action on the matter.
Eric Matheny is a Miami grand theft auto attorney and Broward grand theft auto attorney.