The Impact of Actions

I’ve calmed down a bit, so…

Actions have impacts. We’re all taught that. To those who think vandalism is harmless, think again.

Monday morning I awoke to find that someone had “tipped” my car, a 1999 Honda Civic DX Hatchback with around 66K miles on it, onto the driver’s side. I found this because two friendly LAPD officers were at my door, alerted to the problem by our neighbor across the street who saw four teens doing it at 4:15am that morning. The police took the report, and AAA towed the car to their repair shop. It was then quaranteened until fingerprints were taken. They were taken yesterday (they supposedly got a good set), and the estimator looked at the car today. I don’t have the full verdict, but suffice it to say it is totalled. Evidently the B pillar (i.e., the roof support between a car’s front door window and rear side window) was crushed (which implies roof damage). This destroys the structural integrity of the car. I also know there was damage to the front quarter panel. The amount of damage to the car was thus greater than the wholesale blue-book (or at least that’s what it appears right now), totalling the car.

So, what did this “innocent” prank cost. Well, we’re going to have to replace the car. We’re going to have higher insurance payments. We’re going to have higher registration. We won’t have car payments, but that’s simply because I’m able to pay cash for the new car — we will, however, lose the income producing value of that money (so it is the same as payments, but at a lower interest rate). The gross cost, not counting what we’re likely to get from the insurance company? Probably around $20K, if not more, plus their expenses. We’ll probably get the retail replacement cost for our old car, which will amount, if we’re lucky, to perhaps $7K.

If we find the perpetrators, what will this “innocent prank” cost them? It is Felony Vandalism under California Penal Code 594(b)(1). According to the code, as the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, they could face a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or both fine and imprisonment of up to a year. My understanding is that a felony conviction will stick with them: it will prevent them from jobs requiring bonding, likely teaching, certainly getting a clearance. Additionally, we will certainly file a civil suit against them. There goes college.

All from an “innocent” prank.

We’re lucky. No one was physically hurt. We’re financially able to replace the vehicle quickly, although the funds will reduce savings some. The car was paid off, so we won’t have the effect of two payments. Others I know wouldn’t be so lucky. An incident such as this could through their entire lives in turmoil. They might lose their own transportation to work; their only way to transport their children to daycare.

Again, all from an “innocent” prank. Major impacts on lives.

Before you think of doing something potentially stupid, be it cow-tipping, toilet papering, tagging, prank phone calls, or even getting behind that wheel after having a belt or two: think about the potential impact you might have one someone else. The life you save may just been your own.


So where do we go from here. This evening we test drove potential new cars (I haven’t had good experience buying used). The candidates, in order, are:

  1. Honda Fit. We drove the Fit this evening and were really impressed; it reminded me a lot of the Civic. Lots of storage space, a peppy engine, familiar controls. Basic specs: In-Line 4-Cylinder 16-Valve SOHC VTEC 1.497cc displacement. HP is 109 @ 5800 rpm. Turning diameter is 34.3ft. Milage is 31mpg city, 38mpg highway. Headroom is 40.6″ front, 38.6″ rear (more headroom stats). MSRP is $13,850. Edmunds shows it as MSRP $14,600, with an invoice of $14,036. Of course, the dealer will try to add options.
  2. Toyota Matrix. This had decent storage and was peppy to drive. It has a larger engine (1.8l), is DOHC but not VTEC, has more HP. It is a larger car. It also gets lower mpg, and costs more. The base MSRP according to Edmunds is $16,060, with an invoice of $14,854. By the time we add the options we want, it comes to $17,150 ($15,893).
  3. Scion xB. A peppy, sporty, wagon. Very comfortable and good visibility. We didn’t like the storage space in the rear. Edmunds shows the pricing as $15, 530 MSRP, $14,628 invoice.

Once we have confirmation from insurance that the car is indeed totalled, I think we’re going with a Fit. Sigh. I hadn’t expected to be buying a new car for a while.