Free-Range Kids

Carjacker Realizes Kid Was Left in Car, Returns to Parking Lot To Berate Mom

The mom got the kid back, but not the car.


Yet another guy screamed at a mom for letting her kid wait in the car while she ran into the store to get a gallon of milk—but with a twist: He was a carjacker who had just stolen her car.

The second he noticed the kid, he sped back to the parking lot, and yelled at the mom to take the boy out. She did, and then the carjacker drove off again.

More proof that almost no one wants to steal a child—not even a criminal.

This incident unfolded in Beaverton, Oregon, on January 16, according to The Oregonian. It was about 9 a.m., and the mom needed milk and meat. She put her four-year-old in the back seat, buckled him into his booster seat, and headed to the grocery store. She made sure to park right near the door and ran inside, leaving the car running and unlocked.

She was never more than 15 feet from the car, according to police spokesman Matt Henderson. Nor did she dawdle. She was in the store very briefly, a clerk at the store attested.

But the carjacker saw her walk in, saw the car running, jumped in, and raced away. Realizing just moments later that there was a kid in the backseat, he did a U-turn in the parking lot next to the market and came straight back, whereupon he ordered the mom to remove her son.

The thief then drove off again, and if you happen to see a 2013 silver Honda Pilot—license plate 357 GLV—please call the Beaverton police to have him arrested.

(Do not call them to arrest the mom.)

While it is clearly dumb to leave keys—and kids—in an unlocked, running car, I am thrilled that the cops did not charge this lady with a crime. The carjacker is the criminal here, and the mom is the victim. Let's keep that straight.

Parents should be allowed to let their kids wait in the car during brief errands. To outlaw brief car-waits because once in a blue moon something this crazy happens is the equivalent of outlawing chandeliers, because once a while one crashes down on someone's head.

Naturally it also makes sense to turn off the engine and take the keys. But being rushed and trusting the odds is not a crime. If something turns out fine 99.99 percent of the time, it shouldn't be a crime. If we prohibited everything that was even slightly dangerous, we would have to make it illegal to drive kids anywhere: Many more kids die as passengers in moving cars.

If you happen to see a mom who has left the keys and kid in the car, be a Good Samaritan and either stand there a few minutes until she comes back, or look for her in the store. Resist the temptation to jump in and gun it.