An 8-year-old boy swiped his teacher's car keys and took her minivan for a joyride, cruising safely home and into the record books as the city's youngest auto thief, police said.
The third-grader told officers he "just wanted to drive around for a while" when he left the James Marshall School on Monday, officer Michael Amarillas told The Modesto Bee newspaper.
The diminutive driver snatched the keys from teacher Caren Brady's purse when she turned her back to the class. In order to operate the Dodge Caravan, he raised the driver's seat, lowered the steering wheel, adjusted the rearview mirror and turned off the radio.
"This is the smallest child you can ever imagine," said Brady, who noticed her vehicle missing a couple hours after school, according to the paper. "I don't think this kid is 4 feet tall. He's tiny; he's the tiniest kid in the class."
The boy, whose identity was not released, was suspended from school, Brady said. Nothing was damaged, and no one was hurt. Police said they would not charge him with a crime.
A neighbor saw the boy driving and called police. Officers found the van parked in front of the house, which is less than a mile from the school. They lectured the boy after interviewing him.
"You can't do anything but laugh," said Brady, who spent 90 minutes Tuesday teaching other pupils about the consequences of choices they make. She said she would not let the boy return to her class, according to the Bee.