On Thursday, May 25, at 10:46 in the morning, a car was stolen from a residential neighborhood with a young child inside. Mom was getting ready to leave home when she ran back inside to retrieve something she had forgotten. She ran inside leaving the keys in the car along with her 2-year-old son.
She was only gone a few minutes but returned to find her car gone along with her son. You can only imagine what that must have felt like.
Mom immediately called the Anaheim Police Department. A broadcast was initiated and the car was located less than a mile away by Buena Park Police officers. Luckily, the child was found unharmed.
Anaheim PD was quick to post a message on its Facebook page about what had occurred with this public service announcement: “It only takes a moment!”
Parents can get too comfortable in environments where they feel safe — like in the driveway of your home, the gas station or neighborhood market. It is in these “safe” areas where opportunistic criminals thrive.
A quick review of car thefts with children in the vehicles will tell you these crimes occur with some frequency.
On Tuesday, May 23, an Oklahoma City driver went in to pay for his gas. The suspect jumped in and stole the vehicle. Inside was a sleeping 12-year-old girl. The girl was dropped off about an hour later at a travel center where she walked in and asked for help. She was unharmed. The suspect later was tracked down and arrested.
On Thursday, May 18, a Chicago couple was unloading their vehicle when the suspect jumped into the running vehicle and stole it. Inside was a baby in a car seat. Thanks to a quick response by police, the vehicle was found about 15 minutes later. The child was found unharmed.
Also on Thursday, May 18, in Aiken County, S.C., a vehicle was stolen from a convenience store parking lot. In the back seat was a 5-year-old child. The vehicle was quickly located nearby and after a search, a suspect was arrested.
On Thursday, May 18, in Jackson, Miss. a car was stolen from a supermarket parking lot. Apparently, a woman felt it was safe since there was a sheriff’s unit parked in the lot. While the mother was inside the market, someone pulled up to the running vehicle and stole it with 6-year-old Kingston Frazier inside. The vehicle was later found with the 6-year-old shot and killed inside. Three teens are under arrest for the horrific crime. There is no known motive at this time.
Remember, it only takes a moment. Never leave a child in a running vehicle.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.