A stepdad is being dragged for deciding he’d rather have the new car gifted to his stepson for his 16th birthday.
The original poster (OP), u/Guilty666, shared his story to the popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole, earning over 6,200 upvotes and 600 comments for his post, “[Am I the A**hole] for calling out a man for stealing his stepson’s birthday present?”
“Jake,” the son of OP’s cousin, “Vanessa,” just turned 16. Vanessa and Jake are very close with OP, with Jake even calling him an uncle. Vanessa called OP last week, saying she was going to get Jake a car for his birthday from him, but it was a little short—and he immediately agreed to help out with the cost. After talking with his husband about him, OP decided to check in with Jake to see if he likes the idea of OP contributing to the car fund, or if he’d prefer something else.
Jake said that he’d prefer a gift card because his grandmother had already bought him a new car. Confused, OP continued asking questions and found out that the new car was already there. However, Jake hadn’t gotten a chance to drive it, as his stepdad had been using it ever since his grandma drove it over. When he asked why, he said that his stepdad had totaled his own car.
“Little background… stepdad is a blue collar worker with a white collar man’s taste. Thinks he deserves all of the best things because he’s the man of the house. He didn’t even buy that house, he moved into the house that my cousin owned already. Once I was over their house for dinner, and he demanded the largest steak because he was the man of the house… that’s what we’re working with here,” u/Guilty666 wrote.
OP then calls Vanessa to get the scoop, and she repeats that her husband had totaled his car, and since he didn’t have full coverage, he was taking Jake’s car. Instead, Vanessa would buy Jake a used car. OP was livid at this, and told her that he wasn’t buying her husband a car, and that it was “bulls**t” that she told him he’d be contributing to buy Jake one.
He called Jake’s grandmother to let her know what had happened, and she was similarly enraged. The ownership of the new car had n’t transferred from her name to ella yet, and she told Vanessa her husband is not allowed to drive the car.
Jake later told OP that his stepdad was “very upset” that his stepson had the “newer nicer car” and started driving Jake’s. OP initially thought that the stepdad totaled the car “on purpose” as it would explain why insurance wasn’t paying for anything.
It turns out, however, that no cars were actually wrecked. The stepdad simply sold his old car after Vanessa gave him Jake’s car, saying that it’s been “hard on her husband lately, and he needed the ego boost,” adding that “no 16 year old needs a car that expensive.”
“I did ask if she needed help to get away from her husband, and she cussed me out. Saying I don’t understand the sacrifice needed for a relationship like the one they have, and I don’t know how to deal with people who suffer depression. Her husband needs the car, and Jake doesn’t. Stepdad bullies Jake. Stepdad can’t help it because he has no one but her to help him. Jake doesn’t make it easy for Stepdad,” OP wrote .
Jake’s grandmother gave them an ultimatum: the car needed to be returned to either her or the OP by 8 pm, or she’d report the car as stolen. In addition, Jake is going to stay with OP for a while, and they’re working to get him out of the house.
Stealing a car is a big deal—and just because someone is family doesn’t make it any less of a crime. However, part of that depends on intent. If the person taking the car intends to give it back, they may run afoul of joyriding laws, depending on the state. Some states, like Florida, consider any taking of a car theft, according to Paul Toland Law, but in states like Massachusetts, if the person who took the car can prove they intended to give it back, they could face a far lesser sentence.
Toland describes the difference between theft and joyriding. Joyriding, for example, could involve a teen who borrowed their parents’ car without permission and intends to return it before they notice it missing, or if a vehicle is abandoned on the roadside in worse condition. Theft, on the other hand, would be if the person tried to sell the car, if it was found in a chop shop, or if the person kept the vehicle for a long time.
While car theft can lead to sentences like 15 years in prison depending on the state, Toland says a joyrider could face a sentence of community service, ends as much as $1,000, a suspended driver’s license or even a jail term of up to three years.
Reddit was soundly on the OP’s side, calling out the stepfather for stealing his stepson’s car.
“[Not the A**hole] – you stopped a thief from stealing something big, you did the right thing! I also think your cousin was just as much a thief, and I bet her son has lost a lot of respect for his mom,” u/Kellymargaret wrote in the top-rated comment with 9,100 upvotes.
“What’s your nephew’s banking setup? Does his mother have access to his account? Maybe it’s time to set up something his stepfather can’t get his hands on,” u/mongooses suggested. “[Not the A**hole]”
“[Not the A**hole]. Someone needs to take a stand for the 16yo. The man of the house needs to man up and own his mistakes, including stealing the car. Your cousin needs to own up to asking you to help buy a car under false pretenses,” u/This_Cauliflower1986 wrote.
“[Not the A**hole] – You and grandma handled this like bosses. you’re a great role model for that kid. his mum and step dad are pretty trashy to try to pull that one over all your heads,” u/MyFriendsCallMeEpic wrote. “She called you for help financially, instead you helped morally/ethically which is the kind of help she really needs coz if she pulled what she is trying to pull imagine in a few years when the kid goes no contact for this bs.”
“You’re a great uncle and that’s all that matters right now. [Not the A**hole],” u/Best-Watercress-8887 wrote.
Newsweek reached out to u/Guilty666 for comment.