Police issue warning after girl goes missing when idling vehicle stolen
Published Friday, March 10, 2017 6:44AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 11, 2017 11:56AM EST
Police are reminding parents to never leave their children unattended in vehicles, especially with the engine running, after a family’s vehicle was stolen from their driveway with their daughter inside.
Four-year-old Christina Nguyen was found safe inside her family’s abandoned car a few kilometres from her home after the vehicle was stolen early Friday.
Nguyen's parents had placed the girl in the car, with the engine running, while they went inside the house momentarily to retrieve another child. When they emerged and found the car and their daughter gone, they called police.
An Amber Alert was issued and several police divisions took part in a three-hour search. In the end, a passerby spotted the abandoned car not far from the Nguyen family home, in a parking area of a townhouse complex in the Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue area. The car’s engine was still running and the little girl was in the back.
After being checked over by paramedics, Christina was returned to her parents' custody.
“This is the best possible outcome,” Toronto Police Det. Ranbir Dhillon told reporters.
But Dhillon also reminded parents not to leave children unattended in vehicles, whether the engine is running or not.
“Do not leave your child in a car alone. Ever,” he said.
The suspect in the theft remains at large. Police are now gathering evidence from the car.
Police said they had no information whether the suspect had any connection to the Nguyen family, but Dhillon said it appears to have been a crime of opportunity in which the suspect spotted the car with the keys in the ignition.
The little girl appears to be in good health. In video recorded from the CTV News Toronto helicopter flying over the scene, the girl was later seen emerging from a nearby ambulance in her father’s arms, then high-fiving police officers while her mother hugged other officers.
A family member named Tony Lam later emerged from the Nguyen home to offer their thanks to the Toronto Police Service as well as local news outlets who helped broadcast the Amber Alert.
“The family is relieved and in good spirits. Christina is in good health. And we want to give a special thank-you to everyone on social media for sharing the story and helping us find her,” he said.
He then requested privacy for the family to give them the chance to recover from what he said was “a traumatic situation.”