HOUSTON -- Police in west Houston are investigating a bizarre case in which a woman's car was stolen twice Wednesday morning. The first time her small children were inside.
It happened around 10:30 a.m. in the 11000 block of Westheimer.
The mother, who police did not identify, said she left her car running with her two-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter inside while she went into an office building.
She said that's when a man took off with her children.
HPD Spokesman Victor Sienties said the man showed up a short time later in the white Toyota Corolla at a service station on Westheimer at Hayes, but the children were not in the car with him. He abandoned the running car and a second, seemingly unrelated thief, jumped in the car and took off.
"An off-duty officer spotted him," said Sienties.
That suspect was captured at a nearby apartment complex on Hayes minutes later.
"He kept saying, 'I didn't do it! I didn't do it,'" said a witness at the complex.
Meantime, on Westhollow Park near Westheimer where the family lives, an upstairs neighbor spotted the missing children in front of their apartment.
"It's weird," Renee Thornton said, commenting on the case.
She said she knocked on the family's door but got no response. She said she fed the children a snack and sat with them in a playground area until their parents showed up. Authorities said they were trying to determine how the children got home.
Sienties said the original kidnapping/car theft suspect may have been tied to a dispute the mother had with a disgruntled roommate.
Authorities said they are still searching for that suspect. One neighbor said the family seems to be no stranger to drama.