HOUSTON -- A quick errand turned into a frantic search Tuesday night when a thief stole an SUV with a toddler strapped in the back seat. The little boy’s mother left him alone in the running vehicle while she ran inside of a southeast Houston gas station.
The mother needed some cash so she pulled into a Chevron gas station on Scott at Yellowstone just before 9 p.m. to get money from the ATM. Instead of taking her 21-month-old son inside with her, she left the boy in the back seat while the engine was still on, according to Houston police.
A thief seized the opportunity and drove off with the 1999 silver Jeep Cherokee, to the mother’s horror. HPD was called to the scene and a search immediately got underway.
It did not last long because the thief abandoned the Jeep about two miles away, possibly after noticing the child. The suspect then left the little boy alone on the side of the road.
A woman who does animal rescues in the area heard something whimpering inside the abandoned Jeep near the intersection of Red Bud and Bowen and went to investigate. The doors were unlocked and when she opened one, found the frightened toddler.
“I heard a very, very faint baby cry and I didn’t know if it was a baby in there or if it was a prostitute or are they doing it with a baby in the car, I thought it was kind of scary,” the woman said. “So I asked him to run and get this dog, the big German Shepherd, and a flashlight and look inside. And sure enough, he was by himself.”
The toddler was reunited his mother around 10 p.m. and taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution.
The gas station surveillance cameras showed the mother going into the store, then running out frantically when she realizes her SUV is gone. Unfortunately, they didn’t show the suspect.