Workshop Teaches Kids How to Steal Cars

Megan Van Schaick

carI like the idea of kids acting like kids. Kids should run around and get dirty. They should build forts and sling mud and start snowball fights. They should even break the rules occasionally. It’s good for kid-dom everywhere when they do these things. But somehow learning to break into and hot wire a car never really made it on to my “good for kids these days” list.

It did, however, make it into a workshop offered by Machine Project, a non-profit community center in Los Angeles (where I would imagine lots of car thievery goes on).

Are they a front for some crazy auto-stealing cartel? Perhaps a vicious gang of car pirates? Well, if car stealing pirates also knit and make pinhole cameras, then yes.

Most of the organization's classes and projects are totally harmless and really very cool. But come on! A class called "How to Steal a Car"?

As a kid I would have jumped at the chance to participate in legal illegal behavior. Okay, plain old illegal behavior, too, most likely. As an adult, horror strikes my guts when I see what’s on the agenda for the class:

  • Breaking in! How to break into a car, and how car locks work -- including exciting door-panel removal.
  • Breaking out! How to escape from a locked car trunk. Each student will have a chance to learn and perform this exciting feat.
  • Breaking ... the law! How to hot wire and start a car with some simple tools.

Breaking out ... that’s a good thing. Kids should all know how to do that, even if they don’t live in kidnapping central. But breaking in? Hot wiring?

Sure, learning how locks work is cool. The electronics of a car is super cool. But teaching that to kids, even when accompanied by an adult? Nope. Can’t get behind it. It’s like Frodo’s ring -- once you have the power, it’s just too tempting not to use it. But I suppose there are two ways this could go down. Either Johnny’s joyriding down to the club every weekend, no matter how well you hide the keys, or he becomes a genius superhero, using his powers for the good of locked-out people everywhere.

This class is just massively irresponsible, even with parents present. Yes, it teaches some valuable skills, but it also teaches some very, very dangerous ones. What’s next, Pipe Bombs 101?

Would you let your kid go to a workshop like this?


Image via UggBoy/Flickr

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