Group documents hundreds of cases where cars are stolen with kids inside

There have been hundreds of instances nationwide over the past couple of years involving vehicles that were stolen with children inside, according to the nonprofit child safety organization “Kids and Car Safety.”

The group said there have been 79 children left in vehicles that were stolen so far this year, including one incident that happened in D.C. on Tuesday night.

According to police, a vehicle was stolen in Southeast with two children inside. They were later found uninjured.

“It’s happening all over the country,” said Amber Rollins, director of Kids and Car Safety. “Parents need to know that there is no safe amount of time for a child of any age to be left unattended inside a vehicle, especially if that car is running and the keys are inside.”

Rollins said the cases often involve a thief who steals a vehicle, doesn’t realize there’s a child in the backseat and then panics, sometimes abandoning the vehicle or dumping the child on the side of the road.

Over the course of 2022, Rollins said her group documented 265 children in the U.S. who were left in vehicles that were stolen.

“That is just the cases that we’ve been able to document through media reports, so we know that it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Rollins said. “There are certainly other cases out there that didn’t make the news, and it is absolutely terrifying.”

It only takes a few seconds for a car thief to jump into a vehicle and be gone.

Kids and Car Safety encouraged parents to never leave a child of any age alone in a vehicle and to use curbside pickup services whenever possible to avoid stepping out of the vehicle.

“We do document cases where car thieves have jumped in the car while someone’s standing there pumping gas,” Rollins said. “Even if you’re standing right there, if your kids are inside that car, you want to take extra precautions.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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