Local child abductions left in unattended vehicles on the rise

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GREENBSORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A decision that seems like a good idea, running into a store for a quick second while your child is asleep in your running car, has turned into nothing short of panic, anxiety and agony for Triad families.  

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has documented an increase in the number of children who are left unattended in a vehicle that is later stolen with the child inside.  

Since April, there have been three cases in the Triad of this happening.  

On April 3, Josea Petty, 14-months-old, was kidnapped from a Valero Gas station.

On May 17, an 8-month-old was kidnapped outside an Asheboro Harber Freight.

The most recent happened on May 21, outside of a Marathon Gas station when 5-month-old Nora Grant was left inside of her car-seat as her mother asked for directions from a clerk. Within a matter of seconds, her car was stolen with Nora inside.  

In all these cases, their children were either returned safely or rescued by authorities during a chase.  

However, nationally, some children have not been as lucky.  

According to a KidsAndCars representative, Amber Rollins, these cases have become extremely common.

The organization tracks, records and educates parents on the dangers children face when left in a vehicle.  

In North Carolina, there were 13 documented cases where children were taken in vehicles. And in 2018, there were 14 cases.  

Last year, across the country, there were 40 Amber Alerts issued, six of which were in North Carolina.  

Most of these were outside gas stations, grocery stores, private driveways and daycare centers.  

“These are crimes of opportunity. Thieves know that people run inside. They leave their keys in the car. They leave the car running, and then they run back out. Places where they feel safe, and they’ve taking advantage of that,” Rollins said.

Josh Bischoff, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, explained that in his 11 years of working with the agency, the cases have risen.

He explained they follow the trend of increases in vehicle thefts, and that the victims are getting younger.

“Most often, the Amber Alerts are for younger children. Probably because the car thief doesn’t necessary see them in the back seat,” he said.   

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