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  1. #1
    kewo is offline Junior Member
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    May 2007
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    Car stolen and recovered

    STATE: California

    (Don't know if this should go under criminal or juvenile)

    WHAT HAPPENED:
    - Car (Acura Integra) stolen from my apartment complex

    - Suspect caught a few days later
    Suspect and friend tried to get rid of the car by rolling it down the street. Neighbors saw and called the cops.When cops came, suspect (driver) and a friend drove away. Suspect and friend stopped a block later and friend ran off. Don't know if friend was caught, but the suspect was caught.

    - Suspect found to NOT have a valid drivers license. Also suspect is a minor (17 years old).

    - Car was towed to a local junk yard.
    I had to pay for the tow ($390) and signed car over to tow yard to stop from incurring charges by them. Car was not in drivable condition. Inside was stripped and engine was pulled out. Could not tow to my apartment because car was very messed up (engine sticking out of the car, grafitti, and such) and apartment complex would not let a messed up nonoperational car stay there.

    - Tried to settle with suspect's parents for cost of the car and cost of towing fee I had to pay. Did not include personal stress that caused us. Parents still refused to pay.

    - I only have liability on my insurance so it would not cover it

    - Cost of car is more than small claims limit here ($5000?) so I think I have to get a lawyer.

    EVIDENCE:
    - Suspect identified by witness

    - Found white paint on hands.
    Paint was used to graffiti the car. Writing things such as "F*** the cops"

    - Engine found inside of suspects garage (parents home).

    - My wife's (victim) personal belongings found in the garage

    WHAT I'VE DONE / QUESTIONS:
    - Since parents refused to settle for the cost of car and tow, I now want to sue for cost of car, tow, AND personal stress/inconveniences. This has caused me and my wife a lot of stress and incovenience of not having a car. I now have to find money to put a downpayment on a new car or purchase an old car (We are both students and don't have much). I have not parked in my parking space in fear my car would get vandelized. The car has been broken into before and got stereo stolen. I think it is by he same person/people. The suspect was gang affiliated.

    - Not including lost wages, what is a reasonable amount to sue for? (I'm not trying to bankrupt the family, but this has really caused me a lot of stress)

    - Family does live in an okay neighborhood. Price of homes ~ $400k. Don't know if they own or rent. I don't know anything else about their assets.

    - If the family has car insurance would they cover it? The detective did say that if they had home insurance, that may cover it.

    - Contacted an injury lawyer (someone i've used before) and said to have DA handle it. Is this because they didnt want to handle it because they might not get any money? Or is this really the way to go? Will District Attorney take my case and get my money?

    - Contacted the local court to try get a hold of DA but they said the case is not yet in the computers so they don't know who is handling my case. It has been 1 week since the incident. Strange that its not in their system yet. I will try again later this week.

    - The detective has sent me the suspect's/family's info (name/address), incident report, witness report, Police report, and such. It seems very clear that suspect is at fault and since is a minor (17yrs old) parents should be responsible.

    - If the suspect is tried as an adult, does that mean parents are not responsible?

    - If the judge orders that family to pay, what happens if family still refuse to pay? Cut money from their paychecks? Go after their home or cars?

    - Is there a state funded crime victim resources available in california? If so am I eligable? How much trouble must I go through to get this?


    WHAT I'M GOING TO DO:
    - Contact the DA responsible and add restitution to the suspect's sentence.
    - Go look for another car.

    There is not muc else to do that i can think of.

    I'll keep this thread updated. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance.
  2. #2
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Did you have insurance? If so, why didn't you start with them?
  3. #3
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    Did you have insurance? If so, why didn't you start with them?
    Quote Originally Posted by kewo
    I only have liability on my insurance so it would not cover it
    - Since parents refused to settle for the cost of car and tow, I now want to sue for cost of car, tow, AND personal stress/inconveniences. This has caused me and my wife a lot of stress and incovenience of not having a car. I now have to find money to put a downpayment on a new car or purchase an old car (We are both students and don't have much). I have not parked in my parking space in fear my car would get vandelized. The car has been broken into before and got stereo stolen. I think it is by he same person/people. The suspect was gang affiliated
    What do you think suing the punk's parents is going to do? If you fear the gang stuff now, suing will likely make it worse.

    - Not including lost wages, what is a reasonable amount to sue for? (I'm not trying to bankrupt the family, but this has really caused me a lot of stress)
    You can only sue for actual losses and expenses and you will need proof.

    -
    Tried to settle with suspect's parents for cost of the car and cost of towing fee I had to pay. Did not include personal stress that caused us. Parents still refused to pay.
    Not surprised. They likely don't give a damn what their kid does. If bringing home a stolen car isn't going cause them problems, suing them won't either.


    If the family has car insurance would they cover it? The detective did say that if they had home insurance, that may cover it.
    No insurance company, auto or home owners, is going to cover your losses that were caused by criminal activity.


    Contacted an injury lawyer (someone i've used before) and said to have DA handle it. Is this because they didnt want to handle it because they might not get any money? Or is this really the way to go? Will District Attorney take my case and get my money?
    The DA can ask the judge for restitution. Paying you back will be required as part of completing any sentence. It wouldn't hurt to ask.

    - Contacted the local court to try get a hold of DA but they said the case is not yet in the computers so they don't know who is handling my case. It has been 1 week since the incident. Strange that its not in their system yet. I will try again later this week.
    Depending on the case load, it can take months before the bad guy is brought up on charges.

    - The detective has sent me the suspect's/family's info (name/address), incident report, witness report, Police report, and such. It seems very clear that suspect is at fault and since is a minor (17yrs old) parents should be responsible.
    You would think so.

    - If the suspect is tried as an adult, does that mean parents are not responsible?
    No. It just means if he serves any jail time, it will be in an adult facility.

    - If the judge orders that family to pay, what happens if family still refuse to pay? Cut money from their paychecks? Go after their home or cars?
    The judge cannot order the parents to pay, they are not the people going on trial, if there is one. If you want money from the parents, you will have to sue them.

    Is there a state funded crime victim resources available in california? If so am I eligable? How much trouble must I go through to get this?
    If there is a crime victim fund, it would not cover your stolen car. They are generally used to help folks that would be homeless or destitute due to being a victim of a crime.

    Good luck, your going to need it.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

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  4. #4
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    The DA will generally add restitution to any sentence. As part of the court's presentencing report to be complted by the Probation Department, they shoudl contact you for your expenses as a result of the crime.

    Here is a link to the state victims' fund, and it doesn't generally cover auto theft:

    [url]http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov/Victims.htm[/url]

    If you are not covered by insurance, you may be eating the loss. Sadly, if the kid doesn't have the money, he's not going be able to pay you back. And, a suit against mom and dad would likely be expensive and even if you did get a judgment, do you really think they have money?

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  5. #5
    kewo is offline Junior Member
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    Read up on more court stuff all day. It turns out small claims in CA has a max of $7500 NOT what I previously thought, $5000. So I will be taking the parents to small claims. I don't think (hope) it will cost too much.

    First I will talk to the DA and get advice from him/her and add restitution.

    Next I will take the parents to small claims court. I don't know if I have to wait until after the criminal case against the son, but I'll ask the DA.

    I read in the court's website FAQ that I can go after wages and personal property if the parents don't pay -- just a lot of paperwork.

    For me, this case is not only for money but also for principle. I can't let someone get away with something like this. I've read on this forum of similar cases like mine where people just ended up getting screwed over.

    If successful, I'll post details on steps I took for small claims and steps I took in getting the parents to pay.

    LESSON OF THE DAY: Get full coverage auto insurance (with theft). It will save from a lot of headache.
  6. #6
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    You can't sue the parents you know. They didn't steal and wreck your car. Just because the thief is a minor doesn't mean his parents are financially responsible for damages that HE caused.
  7. #7
    stephenk is offline Senior Member
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    Beginning January 1, 1996 the California Welfare and Institutions Code allows judges to order parents or guardians to pay up to $25,000 to cover losses suffered by the victims of crimes committed by their minor children, and other fines and penalties that may be assessed against the minor. Furthermore, the future earning power of the parent, guardian, and minor can be considered in setting these liabilities.

    Under the California Civil Code parents or guardians are liable for civil damages of up to $25,000 for any act of willful misconduct of a minor in their custody and control that results in injury or death to another person or in any injury to the property of another.

    I am too tired to look up the specific statutes.
    Cal Naughton, Jr.: I like to think of Jesus as a mischievous badger.
  8. #8
    kewo is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the post stephenk.

    I am under the impression that i CAN go after the parents. This is after talking to the detective that handled my case and a auto injury lawyer.

    I do believe the parents should have had better control of their child. When the cops got to their garage, there were other items (ripped out stereos, dvd monitors, and other car stuff) that appeared to be stolen but could not charge them for that because there is no proof. The parents should have known their kid was hanging with the wrong crowd.

    The son and a friend (the friend ran off and as of now i don't know if he is caught) stripped my car in the parent's garage. So I DO feel the parents should take responsibility for my losses.

    From the report:
    Additional charges:
    1 count - Own or operate a chop shop
    2 counts - possession of a stolen vehicle
    2 counts - possession of stolen property

    I honestly am not afraid of not getting a judgement. I do think I will get a judegment for the parents to pay for my losses. My concern is collecting and the possibility of having to do alot of paperwork to go after their wages and assets in case they decide not to pay up after judgement.

    My other concern is my time. I don't have much time between full time work and overtime schooling. For now, having to spend money on another car is a significant hit to my wallet. When I start my engineering job in 3 months it definitley wont be worth my time. But I just CAN'T let these people slide. It really isn't fair for me and the other unlucky people who'll have to go through this. I sure hope this settles by the time I graduate.

    Thanks for all your replys.

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