Police: Man steals running vehicle with child inside; child found safe
Police in West Orange say a man stole a vehicle left running with a child inside, but then abandoned the car after realizing the 4-year-old was in the back seat.
Officers responded to Columbia Street in West Orange around 12:12 p.m. Wednesday for the incident.
The mother told the police that she left the car running with her child in the back seat while running into Jimmy Buff's of West Orange Italian Hot Dogs.
Police say the vehicle was recovered soon after about a block away. The child was safe and not hurt. The mother refused medical attention for her and the child.
The suspect was last seen walking southbound on Columbia Street toward Watchung Avenue.
He is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall with short hair and wearing a T-shirt with an unidentified graphic or logo.
As police continue the investigation, they say it is important to remember a few things to prevent a situation like this from happening again.
“Please don’t leave your car unlocked - with a child in it. And especially with the car running,” says Deputy Chief Michael Keigher. “Things like this can happen - a kidnapping, a carjacking - and fortunately this is a good turnout. It could have been tragic consequences.”
New Jersey has seen an increase in car thefts and burglaries over the past year. West Orange officials hosted a conference with some state lawmakers on Thursday calling for a crackdown on and tougher penalties for vehicle crimes.
Anyone who may have information about this particular crime is urged to contact the West Orange Police Department.