Father warns parents after thief takes his car with child inside - AmericaNowNews.com


Father warns parents after thief steals his car with child inside

You forget something. You stop at a store. It'll only take a minute. So, you leave the kids buckled up inside the vehicle. Seconds later, both your vehicle and your children are gone!

Think it couldn't happen to you?

Chris Vestal left his son in the car with it running while he went inside his home. 

"Right then, I thought I was going to pass out," and Vestal added, "I couldn't breathe."

Both his car and his 2-year-old son, Mikah, were gone. He flagged down a police officer and the search began.

"While I was talking to the police officer, I heard when they pulled the car over, he [Mikah] wasn't in it. So, right then and there, I just broke down and started crying," Vestal recalled.

Mikah was found only blocks away from where the car was stolen.

"It don't matter if you're running into the house for a second to get a drink of water, take your kid with you," Vestal said.  

An average of 60 children disappear in car thefts each year according to the national non-profit child safety organization KidsAndCars.org. Fortunately, most of these children are found.

KidsAndCars.org say the numbers are likely higher since their data is based only on news reports.

About 42% of the car thefts involving children happen outside convenience stores, gas stations, or in parking lots. Another 20% occur in someone's driveway.

Officer Craig Allen is with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He says caregivers often leave children unattended in a vehicle for a few seconds, but that's all it takes for someone to swipe your car and your child.

"Would you leave your child on the playground by themselves and not supervise them? Would you take your child to a mall and leave them? It's the same thing," Allen said.

And that carelessness could lead to criminal charges.

"Absolutely, you're putting your child in danger when you do that," Allen said. "You could be charged with child endangerment, child neglect."

Auto thefts happen so fast, witnesses usually have only scant information to give to a 911 operator or officers once they arrive at the scene.

"We have a description of the car, but we have no idea of a description of the suspect because they didn't even notice them standing around," Allen pointed out.

No matter where you are, if you are tempted to leave a child in a car with the motor running--just don't do it. Take the child with you.

"If you don't feel like you can do that, then go home and leave your child with someone and then run your errands," Allen advised. 

Remember to keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.

If your child is missing, be sure to check vehicles and car trunks immediately. In many cases, children are discovered in these places, hours later, and it's too late.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information:

The following information is from KidsAndCars.org (http://www.kidsandcars.org/about-us.html).

  • Every day, children are left unattended in or around vehicles – a danger most people greatly underestimate. Hypothermia, power window strangulations, and low-speed high severity crush injuries like backovers and frontovers typify what happens when children are left alone in or around motor vehicles on private property. This emerging public health issue causes death and injury due to the dangerous social practice of leaving children unattended in or around vehicles.
  • KidsAndCars.org has worked diligently to document the dimensions of the problem through their unique data gathering techniques. KidsAndCars.org focuses attention to these tragedies with education and public awareness campaigns to this previously unrecognized public safety problem. Successfully passing state laws, proposing Federal policy change and working towards the redesign of motor vehicles to make them safer for children are of paramount important to reduce or eliminate these predictable and preventable causes of injury and death.
  • KidsAndCars.org has conducted extensive research on how often children are injured, abducted, disabled, or killed because they are left unattended in or around vehicles. To date the organization has captured information about almost 10,000 children whose lives have been endangered because they were left unattended in or around vehicles on private property. KidsAndCars.org has documented over 2450 child deaths and knows these data vastly underestimate the true magnitude of this problem. The statistics from this growing database is what is being used to create a social norm change in the United States so children will no longer be left unattended in or around motor vehicles.
  • Safety Tips from KidsAndCars.org
    • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
    • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
    • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the "Look Before You Lock" campaign.
    • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
    • Make arrangements with your child's day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
    • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
    • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
    • Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
    • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
    • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
    • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
    • Use drive]thru services when available. (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.)
    • Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.

The following is from an online article, "Should Parents Ever Leave Kids Alone in a Car—Even Briefly?" (Source:  http://voices.yahoo.com/should-parents-ever-leave-kids-alone-car-even-1287015.html).

  • A child should never be left in a car for more than a few minutes, especially in hot or cold weather.
  • Parents should never leave their kids in a car that is out of their field of vision, especially if the car is running.

The following is from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Source: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4005)

  • An average of 35,000 completed and attempted carjackings occurred each year in the United States between 1987 and 1992.
  • In 52 percent of the carjackings the offender succeeded in stealing the victim's motor vehicle.
  • Men were more likely than women and African-Americans were more likely than whites to be victimized by carjacking.
  • Persons aged 35 or older were less likely than younger people to become carjacking victims.
  • Nine in 10 completed carjackings were reported to the police, compared to 6 in 10 attempts.
  • Most carjacking victims escaped without injury.
  • Victims were injured in 24 percent of the completed carjackings and 18 percent of attempted carjackings.
  • Offenders used a weapon in 77 percent of all attempted and completed carjackings.
  • Carjackings were more likely to occur in the evening or at night and away from the victim's home.
  • Offenders between the ages of 21 and 29 committed approximately half of all completed carjackings.
  • Victims identified offenders' race as white in 32 percent of carjackings, African-American in 49 percent, and Asian or American Indian in 6 percent.
  • Men committed 87 percent of all carjackings.
  • About half (54 percent) of all completed or attempted carjackings were committed by groups of two or more offenders.
  • Forty-one percent were committed by lone offenders.
  • Suburbanites were less likely than residents of a central city and more likely than rural residents to be victims of a completed or attempted carjacking.

The following information is from the Insurance Information Institute (Source: http://www.iii.org/media/hottopics/insurance/test4/)

  • 2011 Theft Statistics: According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports, a motor vehicle was stolen in the United States every 44 seconds. The odds of a vehicle being stolen were 1 in 342 in 2010 (latest data available, based on motor vehicle registrations from the Federal Highway Administration, thefts from the FBI and calculated by the Insurance Information Institute). The odds are highest in urban areas.
  • U.S. motor vehicle thefts fell 3.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. In 2011, 715,373 motor vehicles were reported stolen.
  • In 2011 the South accounted for the largest share of thefts—36.3 percent, followed by the West, 33.8 percent. The Midwest accounted for 19.4 percent of thefts and the Northeast for 10.6 percent.
  • Nationwide the 2011 motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was 229.6, down 4.0 percent from 239.1 in 2010. The highest rate was reported in the West, 331.5, down 5.2 percent from 349.6 in 2010. The rate of motor vehicles stolen was 223.6 in the South, down 5.8 percent from 2010; 206.3 in the Midwest, down 0.6 percent; and 136.7 in the Northeast, down 0.3 percent.
  • In 2011 only 11.9 percent of thefts were cleared, either by arrests or by exceptional means, compared with 18.8 percent for arson and 18.6 percent for all property crimes.
  • Slightly more than half (52.3 percent) of the value of locally stolen motor vehicles was recovered in 2011, the highest rate for all types of property stolen, according to the FBI.
  • Autos accounted for 73.9 percent of all motor vehicles stolen in 2011, trucks and buses accounted for 15.7 percent and other vehicles for 10.4 percent.
  • Insurance Premiums: The average comprehensive insurance premium in the U.S. fell 0.9 percent from $133.62 in 2008 to $132.40 in 2009 (the most recent data available), according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • Carjackings: Carjackings occur most frequently in urban areas. They accounted for only 3.0 percent of all motor vehicle thefts, based on Department of Justice data from 1993 to 2002 (latest available).


  • Thefts By City: According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB, https://www.nicb.org ) study released in June 2012, the Fresno, California Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the highest rate per 100,000 inhabitants for vehicle thefts in the nation in 2011. The NICB noted that while four of the top 10 ‘hot spots' for 2011 showed an increase in thefts compared with 2010, the remaining six of the top ten actually had fewer thefts.


Most motor vehicle thefts

Fewest motor vehicle thefts



Vehicles stolen



Vehicles stolen




















South Dakota







New Hampshire







North Dakota
































New York






Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

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