Thief ditches stolen car with 5-month-old baby inside

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- Escondido police were trying to find a man who stole a car with a 5-month-old girl inside and later ditched the car about five miles away with the little girl still inside.

The child's mother left her baby alone in her car with the key in the ignition in front of her Escondido apartment in the 1000 block of Rock Springs Road Thursday afternoon and returned a short time later to find that someone had stolen the vehicle along with the infant. A witness reported seeing a man jump into the car and speed off.

Baby found unharmed inside a carjacked Camry in Escondido.

Baby found unharmed inside a stolen Toyota Camry in Escondido.

Less than an hour after the Toyota Camry was stolen , officers found it abandoned about five miles away, according to police. The 5-month-old girl was still inside in her car seat, seemingly unscathed, Lt. Kevin Toth said.

The theft occurred about 3 p.m., just after the mother ran into her residence with the apparent intention of being gone only momentarily while retrieving something. Witnesses reported seeing a man jump into the vehicle and flee at high speed.

When the Camry was recovered in the 1500 block of East Grand Avenue shortly before 4 p.m., the thief was gone. Officers were still searching for him in the late afternoon.

The suspect was described as a Hispanic man in his 30s with a medium height and build.  He was wearing a white T-shirt, dark colored pants and had a tattoo under his right shirt sleeve.

It was the second time in less than 24 hours that a vehicle was stolen with a young child inside it in the San Diego area.

An 18-month-old boy who was inside a car stolen from a Chula Vista hotel was found safe in National City early today after the suspected car thief noticed him sleeping in his car seat and called police.

An 18-month-old boy who was inside a car stolen from a Chula Vista hotel was found safe in National City early today after the
suspected car thief noticed him sleeping in his car seat and called police.

About 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, a woman made a 911 call to report that someone had just stolen a 2009 Nissan Maxima with her 18-month-old son inside it from outside a motel in the 600 block of E Street in Chula Vista, authorities said. The crime occurred as the mother and a friend -- the owner of the vehicle -- were walking to the lobby of the lodge to check in.

About a half-hour later, a man contacted police and admitted to taking the car before noticing the boy sleeping in a rear child seat.

Officers found the vehicle in the 500 block of K Avenue with the youngster still inside, unharmed. Steve Luna, 25, was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of auto theft and being under the influence of a controlled substance.