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Thursday, March 28, 2013

AMBER Alert Sparks Dangerous Reminder About Child Safety: San Jose Police Release Sketch of Kidnapping Suspect

This police sketch depicts a suspect in the kidnapping of a baby girl from her East San Jose home on March 25, 2013. The infant was found safe later that day. Detectives are still looking for a Latina woman between 38 and 45 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 160 pounds, with a dark complexion, dark hair pulled back into a lower bun, last seen wearing a dark, possibly suede, tight-fitting jacket and dark pants. (San Jose police)

It can happen in a moment. You leave your car running, keys in the ignition, and run inside the house for a “quick minute” while the car warms up before heading out on your day.

Drivers do it all the time. I’ve done it myself. We never think that today could be the day that our car gets stolen while doing so.

Well, that is exactly what happened at 6:43 a.m. on Monday in the driveway of an East San Jose home on Amador Drive, and what sparked a statewide AMBER Alert. The Amber Alert was not called for the stolen vehicle, but for the 11-month old baby in the back seat.

In between trips by the baby’s mother to load the car, a woman (suspect sketch above) jumped into the running vehicle and drove off.

A massive police search and AMBER Alert ensued including police helicopters, specialized task force, and missing children agencies. Law enforcement even shut down a section of Highway 101 to search evidence.

As the search intensified, police dispatch received a call that the stolen vehicle was in the alleyway of an apartment complex near Andrew Hill High School in the Seven Trees neighborhood of San Jose. 14 year veteran, Officer Carlos Acosta, and his partner arrived at the scene to find an abandoned vehicle… with a baby crying inside. While the 11-month old was distraught and scared, she was safe.

While the safe recovery of the child is most important, Monday's AMBER Alert has sparked a stark reminder about our children’s safety, especially regarding vehicle supervision. There are numerous dangers when leaving your child unattended in a car. A stolen vehicle (AKA - stolen child!) is just one. Children die from hyperthermia or heat strokes every year. They are often times scared while “waiting” for your return. It is even against the law in many states.

It is illegal to leave a child unattended in your vehicle according to California law (and many other states). It is even punishable by law. Just last year, one California mother was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment and held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

At the end of the day, would you rather save a few minutes, or potentially save your child’s life? The choice is yours.

Anyone with knowledge about the suspect's whereabouts or information about the case can contact San Jose Police Robbery Detectives Enrique Garcia or Jesus Mendoza at 408-277-4166, or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP (7867) or 

Written & Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

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