Man drops his keys, neighbor swipes them, takes his car and crashes, DA says

Daily Post Staff Writer

Instead of returning his neighbor’s car keys, an East Palo Alto man took a joy ride and is now facing up to eight years in prison, a prosecutor said yesterday (July 13).

Rajnesh Lal, 36, saw his neighbor drop his car keys on July 7 and swiped them up from the sidewalk before the neighbor realized he did not have them, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Lal was later seen on his neighbor’s security footage picking up the keys, according to the DA.

Lal was spotted by East Palo Alto police at 1:48 a.m. Monday driving a car that cops knew did not belong to him and attempted to pull him over, Wagstaffe said. However, Lal fled, speeding through neighborhoods, and eventually crashed into a sound wall and water main at Euclid Avenue and East Bayshore Road.

Lal left the crash on foot and walked home, where police arrested him, according to the DA.

Lal told police that he was addicted to crystal meth and had made a bad decision, according to a community update from Police Chief Al Pardini about the incident.

Lal was charged on Tuesday with felony evading and driving a stolen car, Wagstaffe said. Since Lal was previously convicted of felony assault, his prison time for this crime would be doubled if he is convicted, which means he could receive eight years and four months in prison, according to the DA.

Lal is in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail and will be in court again on July 19.