Bear escapes after destroying an SUV while trapped for hours

A Peninsula woman got the surprise of her life when a bear came running out of her SUV while she was on a weekend getaway in Gold Country. 

She said a bear spent six or seven hours trapped in her SUV before it escaped back into nature.

Vicky Costantini said she's been spending time in that area for 20 years and had never encountered a bear until that morning. She says there wasn't food in the SUV but a can of Altoids which the bear didn't touch.

The 49-year-old shared videos and photos she and her friends took of the incident and the aftermath.

The video showed a bear inside a white Range Rover, climbing over the back seat, escaping through the open back door and running into the woods.

"Disbelief, I was completely stunned," said Costantini.  

Stunned too by the damage done by the bear.

"I often say a bear ate my car. It is destroyed," said Costantini, "It ripped apart the dash. It was trying to get through the car. Every single door panel is destroyed. Every single seat is ripped. But the worse part was the smell."

Costantini lives in Redwood City. She said the animal got into her unlocked SUV while it was parked in the driveway of her vacation home in the Gold Country community of Arnold in Calaveras County.

"It was foamy at the mouth when it came out.  It was probably very dehydrated from having been in there so long.  It was pretty desperate to get out," said Costantini.  

She and her friends were asleep, enjoying a bachelorette weekend when they were awakened by sounds coming from her SUV early Saturday morning, September 12.

"There were lots of lights going off, the hazards were on.  The car was honking. We need to open it to figure out what was in there," Costantini said. 

There was so much condensation, she and her friends were unable to see the huge animal lurking inside the car.

SEE ALSO: Bear enters home, swims in pool in Simi Valley

They used a key fob to open the hatch never imagining it was a bear wreaking havoc.  
She suspected the animal got into the SUV through the back passenger door because of muddy paw prints there.  

Her takeaway from this bear break-in?

"I'm going to continue to put my car in the garage. This was the one time I did not. Always lock my doors," said Costantini.

She is now getting around in a rental car while looking for a new ride. Costantini said she's sad about her Range Rover, but most of all, she's grateful no one was hurt.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU 0