The incident happened Saturday in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood, the New York Post reported.
Shortly after Trevhon Cox's father got out of the vehicle to stop in a corner store, the 9-year-old jumped behind the wheel. The joyride only lasted a few seconds before Trevhon backed into the scaffolding, the report said.
When police arrived, they arrested Trevhon's father, Rawle Cox, 35, on a child endangerment charge for leaving the boy alone in the vehicle.
Trevhon's mother said her son was on his way to a chess match when his father pulled over to buy him a turkey sandwich.
"He went to buy his son a sandwich and ended up in jail," said Fiona Cox, 31. "It was an accident."