Brian McCarthy, 61, of Pleasanton, was vacationing with his family at their west Lake Tahoe cabin when they were awakened at about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 28 by sounds coming from the driveway, the Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, reported Thursday.
"Our son was the first one who woke up, and he was watching the bear through the window," McCarthy said. "We were looking out of our bedroom window and from our view, you could look down and see the bear in the car, and its arms were just flailing all over the place, through the windows and everything."
He said the bear damaged the gearbox while attempting to escape the vehicle and the 2002 Toyota Prius began rolling down the driveway. He said the car rolled across the street and over a small rock wall before coming to rest on the steps of a neighbor's house.
The bear eventually managed to escape the car and fled back into the woods.
McCarthy said he does not know why the bear broke into his car, as there was no food inside.
Lt. David Stevenson of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department said vehicle break-ins by animals are not unheard of in the area.
"Normally, you'll get reports of the Dumpster divers and trash divers, but bears breaking into cars is different," he said. "It's not uncommon, but it's definitely not a normal thing to hear about."