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Mom whose car and child were stolen left keys in ignition

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on March 27, 2012 at 11:06 am with 46 Comments »
March 27, 2012 3:25 pm

Pierce County detectives suspect a thief who stole a car with a child inside near a Puyallup-area day care Tuesday morning may have been lurking outside hoping parents would leave their cars unattended while dropping off their children.

The thief abandoned the 2010 Ford Focus with a 16-month-old child inside on a side street about a dozen blocks from the child care center. The child was unharmed.

Sheriff’s deputies and police from several local jurisdictions had cast a large dragnet at mid-morning Tuesday after they were alerted about the theft. They set up road blocks and cordoned off the neighborhood in hopes of catching the thief.

The distress call came in at 10:34 a.m. The car and the child were recovered about 10 minutes later.

“We were about to issue an Amber Alert, when we found the car,” said sheriff’s department spokesman Ed Troyer.

Troyer said the child’s 27-year-old mother had left the car unlocked with the keys inside while she dropped another child, 3, at the daycare.

“It took just a minute,” said Troyer. “When she came out, the car was gone.”

Her 16-month-old, who was ill, was asleep in a child seat in the car’s back seat.

Troyer said the thief, who was described as being as a white male in his late teens or early 20s, appeared to have been laying in wait for a parent to leave their car vulnerable while they went inside the daycare. The thief wore jeans, a green coat and camouflage backpack.

Sheriff’s department dogs tracked the thief’s trail from the car to a bush nearby where he apparently waited for a ride. Neighbors said they saw him making a cellphone call. Shortly thereafter, a red, lowered car appeared and gave him a ride.

The child’s mother was still shocked by the swiftness of the theft, he said.

“It’s a cautionary tale to all parents,” said Troyer. “Don’t leave your kids and your keys in the car even for a minute.”

Sheriff’s department technicians were processing the stolen car Tuesday for fingerprints or other clues to help them catch the thief.

The child care facility is the Kindercare Learning Center at 10221 152nd St. E.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the car thief. The Crime Stoppers of Pierce County’s phone number is 1-800-222-TIPS.

Troyer said that the thief was probably a professional who has stolen other cars in the area.

Leave a comment Comments → 46
  1. PolarBear53 says:

    1st glad to hear the baby is okay. But did the lady leave the keys in the car? I could see her running in real quick,leaving the baby in the car seat and yeah that’s pushing it. But dont leave the keys in the car. ( Im assuming she left the car running)

  2. family_man says:

    unfortuantly these daycares make great targets for theifs. I had a friend that had her purse stolen from one. People are running late and “only going to be in for a second.” I feel for the mother – and hope this scare taught her a life-long lesson.

  3. retiredssg says:

    1. Take the child in with you!!!! That kid is more important than anything you might be late for!!!

    2. Lock the door or use a remote to lock the door.

    3. Leaving the car running should be illegal in Puyallup. I know it is in Lakewood.

  4. Stupid to leave baby and keys in the car. How many thousands of dollars did the public spend to investigate this matter? Send her a bill.

  5. Megan1990 says:

    Okay 1st off you guys dont know the situation, my niece has SMA and has been super sick being in a day care raises her chances of contacting more germs and getting sicker and she was asleep in the car, my sister was gone for 2 minutes tops to go pick up her oldest daughter from daycare. So before you judge learn the whole story, how about the sick guy that had the balls to steal a car with a baby in it? what if this was u?

  6. Glad the baby is okay. It must have been incredibly frightening for the parent.

  7. I just can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would place my child in a car and leave it even for a moment – not even outside my house. I always put her in the car then got in immediately. Not even when she was big enough to use a regular seatbelt.

  8. PolarBear53 says:

    Megan regardless your sister was wrong…… To run right in and get the other child im okay with and not everyone will agree with that. However never- never leave the car running and unlocked. Its just asking for trouble. Bottom line consider this is a blessing to your family.

  9. jaredmausten says:

    The more common story is, a police chase, than an accident, the baby gets hurt, killed, or never seen again. There is no excuse for leaving a child in a car running or not. Stop making excuses for her, we live in a world that breeds people that kill children, and have no love for anyone including beautiful babies. So to not become a statistic you need to put a lot of effort into protecting them because they cant protect themselves.

  10. Pawnbroker1 says:

    Note to self, don’t leave keys in the car. I’m glad it worked out OK. I am betting the mom never leaves the kid in the car again.

    Now let’s find the car thief.

  11. Megan1990 says:

    well you guys can say whatever you please but im sticking my grounds and you don’t know till you have been there so hush. My sister has had an EXTREMELY difficult year and she should be able to leave her car for 2 seconds if she please without some freaking teenage boy stealing her car. its not my sisters fault the guy stole her car weather she left it running or not i don’t know. Im sure my sister learned a very good lesson from this, but for you guys to keep nagging about it, is selfish and a little immature.

  12. surveyor1 says:

    Sure the mom was wrong to leave the child in the car even if it was just for a minte, but my outrage lies solely with the thief. Crime is rampant these days and all we can think to do is blame the victims for all these thefts. It’s getting to the point where we all need to have crocodile filled moats around our homes and if we don’t it’s out fault that we were burglarized.

  13. Chippert says:

    I can see leaving the sick child in the car asleep for two minutes but for goodness sake, take your keys and lock the door! How long can that take? 30 seconds? Yes, the blame for stealing the car lies on the thief and he will pay for it if he is caught. But there is blame for neglect to be placed on your sister, Megan. And she also may have to pay the price if there is a law in Puyallup or Pierce County about leaving a child in the car or keys in the car (and I suspect there is). As horrible as your sister must feel, she needs to shoulder up to her responsibilities on this and you should stop defending her.

  14. shadynasty says:

    Wow, that is shocking to me that anyone would leave their child in any car let alone an unlocked car these days. Seems like common sense more than anything. Sad there are people out there that steal at all but I really doubt he knew there was a child in the car.

  15. Call the daycare, ask the worker to please come out and get the non-sick child!! I know our daycare will do that for us in cases such as this one. There is no reason to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. i totally feel for what the mother had to have been going through during this time, but there are options in these cases, including asking another parent to please take your child in – i’ve done that too!

  16. sirlancealot says:

    All these insightful perfect parents. That’s funny, I’ve never met you before. Never even seen you.

  17. surveyor1 says:

    I think most of the people commenting here are of the opinion that the mother needs to be thrown in jail or at the very least have her kids taken away. Yes, she made a mistake (and a stupid one at that), but I am quite sure she will never make it again. Having all you 100% perfect people screaming and yelling at her isn’t going to change the outcome of what happened. How about you get upset about the fact that today’s society seems to be perfectly fine with the fact that when criminals strike we just tollerate it as a fact of life and look for ways to make it the victims fault.

  18. Audrysmom says:

    Hi.. Dead beat mother here (sarcasm) as the mother of the child that was left in the car I can honestly say I’m not a perfect paret. It wasn’t two minutes it was literally seconds. I parked right in front of the door dropped the other one off turned around and my car was gone. As far as the bashing goes and the omg she’s so dumb. That is your opinion. People do it. Will I ever do it again? Not a chance in hell. Irregardless some lowlife still saw my car and took it. I was wrong for leaving the keys in the car and running (so far as I know I’m not in any legal trouble.. Thinking I’d never see miss audry ever again seems time serve and punishment enough) I hope other parents can learn from my experience. I also hope they find the man that did it and am greatful that the police responded so quickly! My daughter is safe ad tonight I praise god everyone is okay and I’m only out 100 bucks for new keys and not paying for a funeral. I love my girls and am so thankful she was returned after only 10 minutes and was able to sleep through the entire fiasco.

    To Megan. Thank you for standing up for me. That’s what families do. I’m not a bad person or a horrible parent and the people who know me are well aware that I’m bust my ass for my girls.

    To everyone else. If you want to read about her condition spinal muscular atrophy. Go to curesma.org. Walk a day in my shoes befre you pass judgement. Shit happens. Thankfully tonight I still have my girls.

  19. gonefishin69690 says:

    “It took just a minute,” said Troyer. Yep, that’s all it takes.

  20. sirlancealot says:

    Audry’s mom – Not everyone is judging you. The ONLY difference between you, and the rest of us, is that some creature stepped in when you weren’t looking. The rest of us? We’ve just been LUCKY.

    So glad this turned out peacefully. You’ll do better turning off your media and not listening to the public go off as if they have ANY clue with reality.

  21. gonefishin69690 says:

    @Audrysmom. It was a hot summer day in 1998, my youngest was 3 at the time, my wife was cooking dinner, my daughter who was 12 at the time, and I were in the living room with my 3 year old. Our house is 3 levels, with 2 exits on the main floor, and one out through the finished basement. We had opened up the house as it was a scorching day. So, I hear the dryer buzzer downstairs and went to tend to it. Well, at the same time, my daughter had gone to the bathroom. By the time I came upstairs, my daughter was sitting there and I asked her where her brother was. Immediately she and I alerted her mother, and the panic set in. We ran all over the neighborhood, with neighbors who were outside seeing what was going on, pitching in to help look. He was eventually found about 20 minutes later, in the back of a police car. A probably 12 year old kid had stopped him from crossing a busy street about 3 blocks away, and flagged the officer who had been driving by. There is no more sickening feeling than thinking you have lost your child.
    To those of you who have children, remember, it only takes a minute, a second, for a child to disappear. Never assume older brother, sister, auntie, etc, have taken the reins while you step away to use the restroom, etc, and NEVER leave your child unattended.It only took my 3 year old son about 3-4 minutes to get outside, and get 3 blocks away. @audrysmom, This is the kind of mistake you only make once isn’t it? I am glad you did not have to learn this lesson in a more gruesome fashion, and have faith you won’t make it again. Is what you do now, is share your story with as many people as possible that have kids.

  22. Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement.

  23. jennifer1978 says:

    My girls go to this daycare and I work with medically fragile kids. I have left my 11 year old in the car just out of convenince while I dropped my three year old off. I have always tought that it wouldn’t happen to me. I now relize that they may not see my daughter in the back seat with my tinted windows until it’s to late. I understand what you mean by parking in the front the employees are great at keeping an eye on the parking lot and almost all the front of the daycare is windows. I also know the not wanting to take a sick fragile baby out of the car and exposing her to the germs of the school. I hope you know how supportive the kindercare staff is and I know when i went to pick up my girls this afternoon they were using this as a time to remind families about how quickly things can change and were very focused on reminding parents how to keep thier kids safe. You have support with kindercare and I’m sure the staff can and will help you however they can. I’m so gald that Audry is safe.

  24. Audrysmom says:

    The daycare reacted quickly and I’ve been there all day. Every parent that walked in or out was
    Warned. There was even a mom that got
    In her car as well as a few teachers who went looking. The place was swarming with cops and road blocks were up in minutes. I’m really impressed with the police action. Longest 11 minutes of my life.

    Thank you airlancelot. I’m glad there are people that understand yes I made a mistake and it could’ve been worse but it doesn’t change the fact that someone took something that didn’t belong to them. Even if I did it to myself he was still wrong and I hope they catch him.

  25. itwasntmethistime says:

    To all you perfect parents who say you would never leave a child in a car unnattended for even a minute, you either have no children, just one child, or your kids are old enough you don’t remember pulling into the driveway with both a sleeping infant and a sleeping toddler or two. You have to take them in one at a time or they will all wake up. And yes, it can be a big deal if they wake up because kids who don’t get their naps ruin everybody else’s day.

    Her major blunder was not taking the keys with her, but she already knows that. Whoops. I’ll bet she won’t do that again.

  26. my granddaughter is 12 years old and I wouldn’t leave her in a car alone, especially running with the keys in it. There are predators out there everywhere. You have to be very careful. Terrible things can happen in a split second!!!

  27. Not only children. A few years back my mother went to the recycle
    center bins to put in her recycle. She parked right in front of the
    bin got out of vehicle and dumped her recycle. When she turned around
    a guy drove off in her vehicle that she had left running four feet
    away. When the police found her vehicle a month later they found
    that the guy had killed his girlfriend in it. Mom got her vehicle
    back and the insurance had it cleaned and the seats and carpet
    replaced………………..but it was never the same again to her.
    Beware, there are more nut cases out there than on this internet blog.

  28. So let’s take this a step further it is against the law to leave your child in a car unattended hope you learned your lesson.

    It’s also a good idea now to change all your locks since the car thief stole your keys and has your address from the registration or insurance card from your car so he probaly has a good idea where you live and what kinda car you drive if your house key was on that key ring time to change your home locks. Is your garage door opener still in the car good idea to change the code. People need to step up and Be accountable for there mistakes.

  29. Honestly, the car was gone for 11 minutes. The guy did not have time to make a copy of her house key.

  30. If you read her comments she said it cost her 100 dollars for new keys my best guess is he took the keys.

  31. Megan1990 says:

    scrubby. shes already done all of that, and who said she wasn’t taken accountability for her part in this? u need to open your eyes and see the whole picture and quit judging. for that matter ALLLLLL of you guys need to quit judging cause you are not perfect and if u are well good for you!!!

  32. Perhaps child protective services should be called. The lady was an idiot. Megan1990, she was just stupid. I guarantee this was not the first time she has done this. And I wouldn’t bet against her doing it again in the future.

  33. Megan1990 says:

    this STUPID LADY is my sister, it was the 1st time it happen. Her daughter suffers from a spinal disorder, she was sick she walked in the daycare for no more the 30 seconds and her car was gone. so hush. and shes not in trouble the police are on her side as well as the daycare center.

  34. I do not care how she’s related to you. Has she never heard of this type of thing happening before. There is a reason my children were never kidnapped while my car was stolen with the engine running. I was smart enough not to that.
    Just like the politician who gets the DUI, I’m sure its the first time.

  35. I do not care how she’s related to you. Has she never heard of this type of thing happening before. There is a reason my children were never kidnapped while my car was stolen with the engine running. I was smart enough not to do that.
    Just like the politician who gets the DUI, I’m sure its the first time.

  36. sirlancealot says:

    jrdndd –
    Obviously you don’t have kids. She made a mistake. She is not an idiot.

    Are you telling me that you NEVER looked away for a second when your kid was in a tub? Your house was perfectly babyproofed? You never hired a babysitter without making sure they were CPR certified? All your cleaning supplies were hidden away behind a locked door? You kept your child away from every strange dog? your kids were buckled in every single time you entered the car and you tested the belt to make sure it was secure and tight? Did you research all the shots you had the doctor inject into your child?

    No one is perfect – sometimes we play the odds because the reality is that chances are slim that something horrible will happen. Had no one stolen the car, THIS CONVERSATION WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. How may people have noticed this happen before – mom gets out of car for several seconds to walk child to a door and turns around back to the car to drive off – I did it all the time. No issues. No one ever made a peep at me – other people did it all the time. The problem is, this time, some idiot stole the car!! That is the real crime. That is the moral issue at hand. We learn from this that it is not safe, it hits a little close to home.

    Reality is, tomorrow I will probably still not lock my front door when I go to my mailbox. I suppose someone could slip in the door and rape and pillage me when I get home, but does that make me an “idiot?” Maybe you and I define idiot differently. I define the developmentally arrested guy who stole the car with a *baby* in it as a total embicile. Idiot for sure.

  37. sirlancealot says:

    jrdndd –
    Obviously you don’t have kids. She made a mistake. She is not an idiot.

    Are you telling me that you NEVER looked away for a second when your kid was in a tub? Your house was perfectly babyproofed? You never hired a babysitter without making sure they were CPR certified? All your cleaning supplies were hidden away behind a locked door? You kept your child away from every strange dog? your kids were buckled in every single time you entered the car and you tested the belt to make sure it was secure and tight? Did you research all the shots you had the doctor inject into your child?

    No one is perfect – sometimes we play the odds because the reality is that chances are slim that something horrible will happen. Had no one stolen the car, **this conversation would never happen.**How may people have noticed this happen before – mom gets out of car for several seconds to walk child to a door and turns around back to the car to drive off – I did it all the time. No issues. No one ever made a peep at me – other people did it all the time. The problem is, this time, some idiot stole the car!! That is the real crime. That is the moral issue at hand. We learn from this that it is not safe, it hits a little close to home.

    Reality is, tomorrow I will probably still not lock my front door when I go to my mailbox. I suppose someone could slip in the door and rape and pillage me when I get home, but does that make me an “idiot?” Maybe you and I define idiot differently. I define the developmentally arrested guy who stole the car with a *baby* in it as a total embicile. Idiot for sure.

  38. sirlancealot says:

    jrdndd –
    Obviously you don’t have kids. She made a mistake. She is not an idiot.

    Are you telling me that you *never* looked away for a second when your kid was in a tub? Your house was perfectly babyproofed? You never hired a babysitter without making sure they were CPR certified? All your cleaning supplies were hidden away behind a locked door? You kept your child away from every strange dog? your kids were buckled in every single time you entered the car and you tested the belt to make sure it was secure and tight? Did you research all the shots you had the doctor inject into your child?

    No one is perfect – sometimes we play the odds because the reality is that chances are slim that something horrible will happen. Had no one stolen the car, **this conversation would never happen.**How may people have noticed this happen before – mom gets out of car for several seconds to walk child to a door and turns around back to the car to drive off – I did it all the time. No issues. No one ever made a peep at me – other people did it all the time. The problem is, this time, some idiot stole the car!! That is the real crime. That is the moral issue at hand. We learn from this that it is not safe, it hits a little close to home.

    Reality is, tomorrow I will probably still not lock my front door when I go to my mailbox. I suppose someone could slip in the door and rape and pillage me when I get home, but does that make me an “idiot?” Maybe you and I define idiot differently. I define the developmentally arrested guy who stole the car with a *baby* in it as a total embicile. Idiot for sure.

  39. Megan1990 says:

    oh okay, so if i leave my front door unlock, and i get raped and beaten its my fault cause i left the door unlocked??? your an idiot and karma will get you buddy. my sister was lucky yes, but maybe you wont be.

  40. sirlancealot says:

    Megan are you talking to me?? I don’t think you read my post carefully. I”m very sympathetic to your sister.

  41. Puyallup is much more concerned about the older male, dressed different who acts just a little different who walks
    into the retail store and steals a candy bar. The business
    people in this town run on stereotypes…and seldom even notice
    the real culprit…cashier number 4.

  42. rocketman says:

    Megan1990 i am guessing you were born in 1990,because you have alot to learn about the world.

  43. This 27 year old is hopefully going to be charged with at least child neglect. I’m relieved for her that her child is safe but her actions are inexcusable.

  44. This mother had a temporary lapse in judgement. GOOD mothers everywhere and everyday make this same mistake. Most parents of little ones, or anyone with experience in child rearing can identify with the inconvenience and hassle of unloading small children to run a quick simple errand; whether it’s to go inside a convenience store to purchase gas, or in this case retrieve another child from daycare. As the article states, the Victim’s daughter suffers from a debilitating disease and is battling the flu. Most mothers cam identify with the concept of not wanting to wake a sleeping child that is sick, to battle the hassle and added stress of having a cranky baby while trying to complete a task then battle them to put them back into their car seat. Was it poor judgement? Absolutely. The terror of having your vehicle stolen while your child is inside is gut wrenching! I am sure the mother is struggling with enough guilt over her decision. She can’t take it back; but has accepted personal accountability, and has warned other parents from making the same decision. The focus should be on the car thief and bringing him to justice.

  45. No one is perfect. I wouldn’t go so far to say that her actions were neglectful, but more of poor judgement. There was a happy ending in that the baby was found safely.

    As concerned citizens we certainly have a right to our opinion. Those of you demanding the mother be charged with neglect based upon what the media has reported are simply biased. I’m not excusing her actions but am sympathetic.

  46. A running, unlocked car screams ‘steal me, I am free for your taking!’. Some basic sense should have been used by this mother. I could never imagine a scenario (regardless of what Megan says above)where my child’s safety comes second to convenience.

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