"Jones attempted to put the vehicle in 'Drive' but could not manipulate the controls."

Strand Theft Auto

Just days after Waymo was cleared to officially launch robotaxi services in the city, a man was arrested after attempting — and immediately failing — to steal one of its self-driving cars in downtown Los Angeles.

In a statement, the LAPD said that Vincent Maurice Jones, 34, climbed into the white vehicle just after it had dropped off a passenger.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much as far as he got.

"Jones attempted to put the vehicle in 'Drive' but could not manipulate the controls," the LAPD said.

Get Out

After noticing the intruder, a Waymo representative told Jones to get out via the car's online communications system, according to the report.

After he refused to do so, the LAPD showed up and arrested him on the spot.

Autonomous vehicles have long been the subject of vandalism. Just last month, a Waymo robotaxi in San Francisco's Chinatown was graffitied and eventually set on fire.

Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary, has been testing its fully autonomous vehicles on the streets of LA for more than a year. Despite objections, Waymo was given the green light last week to officially expand its autonomous vehicle services into Los Angeles County.

The move sparked protests from local leaders.

"These robotaxis are far too untested and Angelenos shouldn’t be Big Tech’s guinea pigs," said LA County supervisor Janice Hahn in a statement. "Decisions like this one should be informed by cities, not made over city objections."

The company already operates robotaxi services in San Francisco and Phoenix.

Waymo's main competitor, General Motors' Cruise, has hit major roadblocks in rolling out its robotaxi services. The company has greatly scaled back its efforts following a fateful incident in October when a woman became trapped under one of its vehicles.

Critics have long fought to keep autonomous vehicles out of cities, with the city of San Francisco filing a lawsuit in January to fight the state commission's decision to allow both Waymo and Cruise to run expanded driverless taxi services in the city.

In other words, Jones likely won't be the last to attempt to steal an autonomous vehicle — even if such an attempt is clearly a fool's errand.

More on Waymo: San Francisco Sues to Get Nuisance Self-Driving Cars Off Its Streets

Share This Article