North County man denies stealing car with baby inside

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — An Escondido man accused of stealing a car containing an infant, then driving to a parking lot less than two miles away, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of car theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine.

Anthony Guerrero, 31, was ordered held on $100,000 bail.

Dispatchers received a call from the baby’s mother at 10:06 p.m. Tuesday reporting that her Mercedes-Benz sedan was stolen from outside a 99 Cents Only store at the Civic Center Plaza Shopping Center on North Escondido Boulevard with her 6-month-old child inside, Escondido police Sgt. Suzanne Baeder said.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the mother was when the car was taken or why the baby was left alone in the car.

A short time later, a police officer spotted the Mercedes in a parking lot in the 1200 block of North Escondido Boulevard, less than two miles from the shopping center where the car was taken, Baeder said.

As the officer approached, the suspect — later identified as Guerrero — got out of the car and ran, but he was taken into custody after crossing the street and the baby was found inside the car unharmed, Baeder said.

Guerrero faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. Judge James Simmons set a readiness conference for Dec. 17 and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 19.