LACEY, Wash. — Police are still on the hunt for man they said stole an SUV with two small children inside, who were later found safe.
It happened around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning at Paramount Christian Church and Academy on College Street.
Police said the mother walked her son inside the daycare, but left her car running in the parking lot. When she came back, both her car, and her 3 and 5-year-old kids were missing.
“When I opened the door she said that her car was gone and her kids were in the car,” said Paramount principal Amy Goodwin. “We ran inside and called 911 right away.”
That sparked a frantic search along College Street.
Moments later, and less than a mile away at Small Wonders Child Development Center, employees spotted a man walking away after parking a car.
That’s when Maggy Partello found two kids sitting in the back seat.
“She’s like, it was a man. And O said who was the man? She was like I don’t know him,” said Partello.
Lacey Police, along with the Washington State Patrol and Thurston County Sheriff’s Deputies used canine officers to track the suspect to a home on 35th Court Southeast. Police broke down the door but came up empty handed.
“Dog even went up in the crawl space, nothing,” said homeowner Sharon Matson.
Administrators at Paramount spent the day looking through surveillance video searching for clues that could lead to a suspect. They’re thankful mom and her kids were reunited.
“That’s God’s work right there,” said Crystal Powers.
Other parents said the incident is a reminder for everyone to never leave kids inside a running car for any reason.
“My mom always tells me the kids are the most important thing,” said Fengmin Yhen. “Don’t leave the kids alone.”
It turns out the children’s father is a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy.
Investigators later said the suspect boarded an Intercity Transit bus and rode it to the area of Balustrade Blvd SE and Ruddell Road SE.
Lacey police said the suspect was seen about 15 minutes later walking northbound on Balustrade Blvd toward Yelm Highway SE.
If you any information in this case you’re urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.