Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A brave seven-year-old boy from Perth has endured a horror joyride that lasted almost 12 hours after a stranger stole a family vehicle inside which the young boy had fallen asleep.
It is reported that around 8:40pm on Saturday 10 October 2020, a white Mitsubishi Pajero Sports four-wheel drive was stolen in Morley in Perth’s northeast, with the boy, named Joseph, inside.
Joseph’s parents had stepped out of the car while it was still running to briefly attend to their other son who was sick.
They walked inside their home on Napier Street for a matter of seconds, believing Joseph was just behind following them into the house.
But unbeknownst to them at the time, the little boy had actually fallen asleep inside the car.
In that short amount of time, a stranger had managed to jump into the vehicle, stealing it and taking it for an extended joyride, all while Joseph lay asleep inside.
The boy’s parents quickly called the police, who acted promptly to initiate a full-blown search to locate the missing child along with the stolen car, infiltrating the streets and extensively distributing a photo of Joseph to local media outlets.
All the while, inside the vehicle, Joseph eventually woke up, now finding himself on a highway.
Boy Hides in Car, Waiting Patiently for Stranger to Leave Vehicle Before Making Getaway
Instinctively turning to his wits, Joseph waited until it was safe to make his getaway, remaining in the vehicle until the stranger had gone.
Speaking to 9News, the young boy recounted the ordeal, hiding away until safe before finally knocking on somebody’s door nearby for help.
“I stayed in the car until they parked it and I knocked on somebody’s door,” Joseph said.
“They didn’t come the first time, so I came in the morning and then they answered.”
Officers had spent the night searching for the boy as the temperature dropped to almost 10 degrees, but failed to unearth any sign of him.
Finally, around 5.30am the following day, the young boy was found in Forrestfield, with the car dumped on Northumberland Road about 19km away from his home, much to the relief of his mother who said she spent the entire night worrying about her missing boy and praying that he was safe.
“It happened so quickly. I just heard something was very noisy outside … I ran out and had a look but my car was not here,” Joseph’s mother, Rose Hsieh, said.
“So, I was really worried. I just said: ‘What is going on?'”
Ms Hsieh said she could not see the car or her son, leaving her in disbelief.
“I ran outside to have a look, and I said: ‘Where’s my car, where’s Joseph, I say Joe, Joe, where are you?’
“I wanted to make sure this was not dream and have a look again.”
Ms Hsieh expressed the big relief it was to have him home and thanked everyone involved in looking for Joseph.
Meanwhile, addressing the incident, Western Australia Police Detective Senior Sergeant Curtis Roe acknowledged how distressing the debacle would have been for Joseph’s family.
“I just can’t understand the grief, anguish and stress that the family would have gone through having their little boy missing for such a long time,” Detective Senior Sergeant Roe said.
Since then, police have advised the young boy is safe and well, with attention now turning to tracking down the offender who stole the family’s vehicle with Joseph inside.
One piece of the puzzle lies in a hooded figure that was seen on CCTV making his way along a neighbourhood’s property the night before, moments prior to the car being stolen.
According to Joseph, the stranger was described as a man with white skin, blue eyes and brown straight hair who left the car before getting into another one.
It is considered a form of larceny, anyone guilty of joyriding can face the same penalty, which in NSW is a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
The law on joyriding is contained in section 154A of the Crimes Act 1900.
Additionally, any person knowing that any conveyance has been taken without such consent, drives it or allows himself or herself to be carried in or on it, is also guilty of an offence.
A “conveyance” can include any motor car, bus, cart, wagon, trailer, caravan, earth moving equipment, bicycle etc used or intended for navigation.
What’s Behind the Thrill of Joyriding Anyway?
In his book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, author Tom Vanderbilt enlightens readers around the reasons why people joyride.
Drawing a particular focus on male teenagers, who typically are more likely to engage in the act of dangerously driving a stolen car for the thrill of it, he highlights a multifaceted pattern of motivational factors.
Indeed, much like the high that comes with taking drugs, one of the key reasons as to why people joyride has to do with mood-modification.
“For a teenager, the car represents mobility and freedom,” Tom writes.
“Joyriding breaks all the rules. That’s the very heart of its appeal.”
Joyriding provides a high and a feeling of elation, particularly in being a form of risk-taking behaviour.
It delivers a buzz of adrenaline, the promise of being able to drive at high speeds, and a sense of control and independence.
Moreover, joyriding has been shown to serve as a means for developing masculine identity, which in turn enhances the associated pleasure for the offender.
Those who do end up joyriding, particularly teenagers, often belong to peer groups that reinforce negative behaviour.
Have questions on the law on joyriding? Speak to experienced Sydney or Parramatta criminal lawyers today.