April Fools? San Bernardino County deputies aren't laughing.
Three men were arrested Tuesday after authorities allege they staged a carjacking at a Hesperia In-N-Out, apparently in an effort to play a prank on their friend.
The joke gone wrong began shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, when a man standing inside the Bear Valley Road restaurant spotted his car speeding out of the parking lot, said Hesperia Sheriff's Station spokeswoman Susan Rose.
The man ran outside and found his friend on the ground, Rose said. The friend said a person had punched him and stolen the man's car.
The man "ran after his vehicle, but he wasn't able to catch up," Rose said. "At that point, he called 911."
Deputies responded to the restaurant and gathered information about the vehicle and alleged suspect from the man and his two friends, broadcasting descriptions to other area stations, Rose said. A helicopter was brought in to help with the search, along with a dozen patrol units.
About 15 minutes later, a deputy was interviewing the man's two friends when "there came a point where they could no longer continue with the prank," Rose said. At about the same time, another deputy found the missing car -- a third friend was the "suspect" who drove it from the In-N-Out, Rose said.
"They divulged that it was an April Fools' joke," she said.
The search was called off, and the three friends behind the joke were taken into custody. Ashraf Drieas, 18, Drue Mendoza, 19, and Luis Garcia, 19, all of Victorville, were booked on suspicion of delaying or obstructing an officer and falsely reporting a crime.
Rose said they could face other charges as well as civil penalties related to the cost of the search. That cost has not yet been determined, Rose said.
The man who called 911 -- the one pranked by the others -- was not arrested because he "had no idea what was going on," Rose said. "He was perfectly innocent."
Rose said resources were diverted by the joke -- deputies delayed their response to other incidents because a carjacking is considered a high-priority call. She said the Hesperia station alone had about a page full of calls that had to wait.
"As innocent as you think a prank may be, it could spiral out of control," she said. "It's not funny. And it's certainly not funny to the person who has to wait for 911 or has to wait for that deputy to respond."