Automobiles

Florida Bill Would Make it a Crime to be the Victim of Auto Theft

Wendgay Newton's bill takes victim blaming to a new level.

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Car theft
Djedzura/Dreamstime

Florida state Rep. Wengay Newton (D–St. Petersburg) is so tough on auto theft that he wants to punish the crime's victims as well.

Newton has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense to have your car stolen if you leave it unlocked with the keys inside. His legislation would make this a second-degree misdemeanor; violators would face fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 60 days.

But only if the person who steals the car is a minor. Having the same unlocked car stolen by an adult would not be a criminal offense.

"We have a lot of juveniles getting access to vehicles unlawfully. However, these juveniles are not using guns or force. These vehicles are pretty much just left running with keys in them," Newton told WTSP. He claims his bill would "close this floodgate of a crime of opportunity."

Leaving one's car unlocked can already lead to a citation in Florida, but a Tampa Bay Times analysis found that these are rarely issued.

Not surprisingly, this proposal has prompted some pushback from people who say it's unfair to crime victims. That includes a number of law enforcement officials.

"I don't think it would be appropriate to charge a victim for a crime," Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter told the Tampa Bay Times. "When we're trying to build trust in the community, it wouldn't really breed a culture of trust between victims and law enforcement." St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway expressed similar sentiments, pointing out to the paper that "people won't report it, or they'll lie to us."

Newton insists his bill wouldn't punish real victims. "I had a lady follow me after a panel, saying let me get this straight, Representative, you want to punish me because they steal my car?" Newton said to WTSP. "I said no ma'am, only when you give it away."

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  1. “Florida state Rep. Wengay Newton (D?St. Petersburg) is so tough on auto theft that he wants to punish the crime’s victims as well.”

    The great Marquis de Sade knew that the best way to deter crime was to punish its victims.

    1. Something something communion wafer something butthole.

      1. ou watched “Quills” didn’t you?

    2. If no one ever reports a crime, then there is no crime? I like the way you think.

      -Every local politician everywhere

    3. If he was really serious, he’d make it a mandatory death penalty offense to steal a car… regardless of the age of the thief.

      The recidivism rate would certainly go down.

      1. Back in the west before cars were invented, stealing someone else’s horse was a crime that warranted the death penalty. There was considerable logic to support that penalty, too. Take a man’s horse miles way from home or water, he waslikely to die, steal his means of livelihood, he was likelyh to starve to death. Recidivism rate was zero……..

        1. So you’re like more saying the USA was a much better, safer place in the 1800s than it is now. check.

    4. My Whole month’s on-line financ-ial gain is $2287. i’m currently ready to fulfill my dreams simply and reside home with my family additionally. I work just for two hours on a daily basis. everybody will use this home profit system by this link……… http://www.startonlinejob.com

  2. Wengay?

    1. Ben Gay’s Asian brother

  3. Unless there is clear and compelling evidence that the victims do so intentionally to commit insurance fraud, this is just asinine. You might as well fine the people who elected this idiot into office.

  4. I know what they are actually trying to prevent here.

    A while back a teenager crashed a car into our front yard. The owners of the car claimed that they had just left the keys in the vehicle and it was stolen, so their insurance wouldn’t cover the damages. Pretty much everyone involved though is pretty certain that it was the owners own drunk teenager that crashed the car they’d been given permission to drive.

    1. I… huh?

      If it was their own teenager, why would the keys have to have been left in the car unlock… how do they not know the person who crashed the car was the owner’s kid… drunk driving is a crime whether you own the… *head explodes*

      1. “The owners of the car claimed that they had just left the keys in the vehicle and it was stolen”

        They would be at least partly liable under laws like the one proposed

        “Pretty much everyone involved though is pretty certain that it was the owners own drunk teenager that crashed the car they’d been given permission to drive.”

        Drunk kid flees, calls parents, they cover for their kid and claim car was stolen. They lose some value with the car, take a claim hit on their insurance, but at least avoid responsibility for the damage caused.

        1. Yep, this is it exactly.

          I’m not saying that this law is a good idea. I’m just saying that I think I know at least one problem they are trying to solve. Especially with how they are specifying that this will only be in force if a minor steals your car.

          1. I’m just saying that I think I know at least one problem they are trying to solve.

            Perhaps banning male teenagers would be a better approach.

            1. Perhaps banning male teenagers would be a better approach.

              Yes. Male teenagers are always to blame for baseless speculation and regulatory overreach (not that anyone here has advocated for the overreach).

            2. All teenagers.

      2. Crash was in the middle of the night. Kid ran off down the street before anyone could wake up and get out to get a clear look at them. The suspicion is that the keys where not left in the car at all. The suspicion is that the parents are saying that they were to cover for their drunk teenager crashing their car.

        1. I’m confused. Why did they need to lie to avoid responsibility for the damage? Insurance will cover the damage regardless of whether it was their own drunk teenager or someone who stole the car. If the lie is to keep the teenager from getting charged with DUI, I don’t see how this bill helps. They could just claim that the thief stole their keys out of their garage. And if it really came down to it, I bet most parents already willing to lie to cover for their kid would rather take a charge under this statute than have their kid charged with DUI.

          1. There is property damage beyond their car that they avoided responsibility for. They also avoided a nice premium hike due to an insured driver driving drunk.

        2. OK, somewhere between A while back a teenager crashed a car into our front yard. and Kid ran off down the street before anyone could wake up and get out to get a clear look at them. a base gets stolen. Let’s agree that you shouldn’t hang out or let your kids hang out around Roy Moore or Harvey Weinstein, OK?

          The suspicion is that the keys where not left in the car at all.

          This is pointless speculation. Either you believe the car was stolen or it wasn’t. Whether the keys were left in an unlocked car, hanging in an unlocked garage, pick pocketed, just lost, etc. (by either the parents or the teen) when the car was/wasn’t stolen is pure fabrication by anyone not responsible for or in ownership of the keys or the car.

    2. This would be an even dumber reason that I was assuming. I assumed that the thinking is that juveniles are somehow being lured into stealing cars by the actions of dumb adults. Kind of an attractive nuisance argument.

    3. bogus… insurance has to pay regardlessof HOW the car caused the third party damage. If it “sklipped out of park” rolled down the hill and crashed into mine, no question….. the driverless car WAS considered at fault. All damage paid. Now, whether the policy would cover the damage to the “stolen” car might be another matter…… but third party MUST be paid, Else anyone and everyone would be claiming their car was stolen…….

      and in the case you cite, if the coppers were caled, they;d KNOW the identity and residence address of the driver. If those were the same as the registered owner of the car at fault, the “he stole it” ruse would carry about as far as the car with four flat tyres could get. Unless the parents WANTED their kid to go to jail, which some would, just to teach him a hard lesson. Still, the owner’s liability insurance would HAVE to pay the damages.

    4. Your one case study proves nothing. This doesn’t happen very often so the law isn’t for you. It’s for dumbasses who leave their keys in their unlocked cars. It’s got nothing to do with drunk teenagers and their parents lying about crashing into your front yard.

  5. Did you see the dress that car was wearing? It was asking for it!

    1. With the top down, you better believe it.

      If the owner didn’t want it stolen, they should’ve welded the doors shut.

  6. Wengay Newton? Daniel Slaughter? This whole thing is ridiculous. I don’t appreciate the media’s continued insistence on pushing the fake news that Florida is real.

    1. All of Carl Hiassen’s books are absolute fact.

  7. So the cop tells you to step out of the car. Then the cop steals the car. And boom, you get 60 days in jail.

    1. And they get to keep the car as a benefit of being used in a crime. Asset forfeiture’s role in American jurisprudence is secured.

    2. That’s a win/win, right? For the cops, I mean.

      1. when a cop is involved, someone always loses and it’s not usually the cop.

  8. Carceral liberalism is alive and well.

  9. Next crime law by this moron politician: If you are a pedestrian and get hit by a car, its YOUR fault. You should not have been walking.

    1. And if said pedestrian failed to purchase health insurance, they get hit with a sentence enhancer.

    2. How about making it illegal to leave a car window slightly open? That just screams “Steal this car!”

  10. There are LEO who, when investigating break-ins, like to scold victims for improperly secured windows and the like. But having to fill out paperwork on it would likely be a bridge too far.

    1. I’ll take a, “Dumb ass”, as he writes out his report, over a “Please turn around an put your hands behind your” *BLAM* *BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM* *BLAM* … *BLAM*

  11. Newton insists his bill wouldn’t punish real victims. “I had a lady follow me after a panel, saying let me get this straight, Representative, you want to punish me because they steal my car?” Newton said to WTSP. “I said no ma’am, only when you give it away.”

    That retort isn’t helping as much as he imagines.

    1. “I said no ma’am, only when you give it away.”

      *wink-wink-nudge-nudge*

      1. God, a Florida politician AND RHCP fan? Ugh.

    2. In next week’s news: Florida state rep Wengay Newton forced to resign after admitting to sexual harassment in live news broadcast

    3. I have to hand it to Newton, that was a pretty snappy response. If he’d have said “Madam”, he’d come off like Winston Churchill

      1. he’d come off like Winston Churchill

        An empty car pulled up and Wengay Newton got out.

        This is really about giving up on teaching his constituents not to steal cars and is a hack-handed attempt to get Pinellas County off the leader board for auto theft.

    4. Old dude logic -wink- -wink- “my stupid joke makes it all good, right?”

  12. A lot of states have laws against allowing your car to idle while not attended. And in many cases, the laws are justified around theft. This law does go much further, but I’m guessing that if your car gets stolen in many states, and during the report you tell the officer it was idling while you were inside drinking coffee while the windows defrosted, you’d get a citation.

  13. Newton insists his bill wouldn’t punish real victims. “I had a lady follow me after a panel, saying let me get this straight, Representative, you want to punish me because they steal my car?” Newton said to WTSP. “I said no ma’am, only when you give it away.”

    Follow up question: so it’s illegal to give away your car?

    Not surprisingly, this proposal has prompted some pushback from people who say it’s unfair to crime victims. That includes a number of law enforcement officials.

    This surprises me. Cops are the biggest victim blamers.

    At a previous house we had a policeman come and talk to us about starting a neighborhood block watch, and proceeded to spend an hour victim blaming. Doesn’t matter what the crime is, it’s your fault for presenting an opportunity. I mean I get it, but there’s a point where you simply aren’t enjoying your property anymore and it would be nice if they would step up and take property crimes a little more seriously.

    1. If a crime is the victim’s fault, then the police are under no obligation to investigate. You deserved it. That’s why cops rarely investigate crimes with victims. The victim deserved it.

      1. It is true that there are not many assets to seize when the car is already gone.

    2. So i guess when the illegal immigrant found the LEO’s gun in the unlocked car in San Fran and shot and killed the woman with it it was also the fault of the LEO who left the gun in plain view in a car. when will he be charged with a crime? I won’t hold my breath

      1. Different jobs have different perks.

        Work at a restaurant and you can can probably get a free meal.

        Work for an airline and you can probably get free or discounted travel.

        Work in law enforcement and you can do whatever the hell you want. Who’s going to stop you or charge you with a crime?

        1. Internal affairs? Oh wait, those guys are only vigilant in buddy cop movies.

    3. There’s a difference between victim-blaming and pointing out cause-and-effect. The country seems to have lost the ability to differentiate.

  14. The only thing more stupid than leaving your keys in an unlocked car is this law.

    1. When you need to turn a dumb mistake with its own already-terrible consequences into a colossal, life-wrecking shitshow, government is there!

    2. Says someone who’s never had to dig their car out of 8 inches of snow in the morning, or drive in weather well below zero.

      1. Pretty much my comment having lived in Maine. Besides, in a town of 500 people, everyone knows everyone else’s car and who it belongs to.

        The big problem with all of this is too many urbanites with atrophied brains making laws for people who can still take care of themselves.

    3. I’d say having your car stolen and all the expenses that go along with that should be enough deterrent, a $500 fine ain’t going to change that.

  15. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle, if there is one thing in this world that I hate, it is an unlocked footlocker! You know that, don’t you?

    Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!

    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If it wasn’t for dickheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world, would there?

    Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!

  16. Fuck you Wengay. Politicians suck ass.

  17. So women who get drunk and pass out at parties will be charged as a criminal when they get raped? They did leave themselves exposed and didn’t say No.

    How about you get charged with murder when someone steals your gun and uses it in another crime?

    Or maybe you leave your the doors to your home unlocked, you are now busted as an accomplish to robbery?

    I’m so glad we have government to watch over us, who is would punish me for someone else’s bad decisions.

    1. Hi, I’m from the Government and I’m here to fuck you over in ways you’ve never even imagined… 🙁

  18. So women who get drunk and pass out at parties will be charged as a criminal when they get raped? They did leave themselves exposed and didn’t say No.

    How about you get charged with murder when someone steals your gun and uses it in another crime?

    Or maybe you leave your the doors to your home unlocked, you are now busted as an accomplish to robbery?

    I’m so glad we have government to watch over us, who is would punish me for someone else’s bad decisions.

    1. “How about you get charged with murder when someone steals your gun and uses it in another crime?”

      Don’t give them ideas.

      1. You’re already behind CA political thinking by about 10 or so years.

  19. And democrats tell me the Republicans have a monopoly on stupid

    1. It’s impossible to monopolize an unlimited resource.

      1. Where is the ^^^^^^^^^^^ emoji?

  20. So steal Wengay’s keys, give them to your teenager.

    When they get caught, have them claim the keys were in the car.

  21. So if someone assaulted this dipshit legislator8, should he be found guilty for not being trained in self defense or not carrying a firearm with which he could deter the attacker?

    * I am a firm believer in the NAP and do not intend to initiate violence or incite others to do so.

  22. Certainly shouldn’t be a crime, but anyone leaving the keys in the vehicle ought to wear a red “I” (idiot) on their back for a week.

  23. Newton has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense to have your car stolen if you leave it unlocked with the keys inside. His legislation would make this a second-degree misdemeanor; violators would face fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 60 days.

    Leaving one’s car unlocked can already lead to a citation in Florida, but a Tampa Bay Times analysis found that these are rarely issued.

    But now that the cops will get to extract up to $500 and throw someone in a cage for 60 days, you can expect enforcement of this new law to be quite a bit higher.

  24. The innocent must be punished. We cannot have innocent people roaming the streets of our nation.

    1. “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” -AR, 1957

  25. It’s Florida; the home of hanging chads and the Stand your ground law.l Why not give the insuance companies a way out of paying for your stolen car on the theory of contributory negligence. If you helped the thief, you don’t collect. Great idea.

    1. It’s called Castle Doctrine, not Stand Your Ground. Maybe you ought to read what the statute actually says.

      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/sta…..6.013.html

      Notice in the title that home protection is specified. The various amplifications include dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. I don’t see anything that says you can defend yourself against anyone who threatens you any place else.

      OTOH, IANAL and don’t play one on TV.

      1. Stand Your Ground means that you have no obligation to retreat if threatened

  26. Newton’s a moron.
    I suppose burglary wouldn’t be a crime if you left your door unlocked?

  27. According to Ballotpedia, it was withdrawn on 9/15/2017 prior to introduction.

  28. Could someone please start a GoFundMe account to pay for Florida to secede from the Union?

  29. This is ridiculous legislation. When it’s your property, you can do anything you want with it. I can leave the doors open with the keys in it and running if i want and i can still complain when my car is stolen. Because nobody has the right to take your property without your consent. Leaving the keys in it and running does not constitute consent.

    That said, you’re an idiot if you leave your keys in the car. It’s like leaving a stack of cash on the front lawn. Yes, you can do that, but we all know the world has plenty of assholes willing to take from you if you give them an opportunity. Until we can change that attitude, it’s just better to lock up/hide the valuables.

  30. What a maroon. Why not levy heavy penalties on people who don’t change their PC passwords or use 123456 or some other idiotic combo. That’s leaving a door unlocked for criminals too… The fact the car was stolen is punishment enough for the victim who will, in turn, hopefully learn a valuable lesson for taking care of their own property.

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