If I allowed someone to use my car and they don’t return it can I report it stolen in the state of California?

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If I allowed someone to use my car and they don’t return it can I report it stolen in the state of California?

Let a friend use my car. I handed them the keys and they have been gone for two
months and don’t know where to find them. Can I report the car stolen and where
can I find the California laws on stuff like that?

Asked on January 10, 2019 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes: when you let someone use or borrow something for a limited time but do not return it, that IS theft--the issue, however, may be showing that the person knew that his/her use was limited, since only if they were aware that they had to return it at a certain time would this be considered a crime. (A crime requires a criminal or wrongful intent.) That may be why the police are not acting here--because they are not sure that under the facts of this situation, the person intended to steal the car, or whether there was ambiguity about when it should have been returned.
Police are people: some officers take things more seriously, or have a different view of them, than others. Try contacting other law enforcement department/agency (e.g. state police)--it may also be that the local officers in your city/town don't want to get involved in something which, if the person is no longer in town, is outside their jurisdiction or which would require extra work and paperwork for them--they may simply be making an excuse. Law enforcement with a wider geographic scope and different institutional culture may see things differently, so it's worth contacting them.
 


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