Stolen vehicle with 7-year-old child inside prompts city-wide search
An unattended car with a 7-year-old girl inside was stolen from a restaurant parking lot Friday afternoon, prompting Anchorage Police to launch a city-wide search effort. The child was found unharmed and with her mother after police recovered the vehicle about an hour and a half later.
According to APD, the girl and her father arrived at Moose’s Tooth at around 1:30 p.m. driving a gold 2009 Toyota Rav 4. The man went inside the restaurant to pick up some food, while the child remained in the car. Police say the vehicle was left running.
When the man exited Moose’s Tooth about half an hour later, he discovered the vehicle was gone, along with his daughter. He contacted APD at around 2:15 p.m.
A heavy police presence quickly responded to the restaurant, and officers began coordinating a search effort from the parking lot. A command post was set up at the BP building across the highway and other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were notified.
“Per protocol for something like this, we want all the help we can get,” APD Chief Chris Tolley told reporters at the scene. “We're contacting law enforcement in both the south and north of the city, looking on the highways, as well as checking throughout the city.”
At around 3:45 p.m., police say an alert passerby spotted the stolen Rav in the area of Tikahtnu Commons and contacted APD. Officers responded and were able to recover the vehicle with the child and the driver still inside. The driver was identified as the girl’s mother, police say.
While the girl was ultimately found safe and unharmed, investigators say many unanswered questions remain. Detectives could not immediately confirm exactly why or when the mother took possession of the vehicle, or where she had been just prior to the father’s arrival at Moose’s Tooth.
According to APD Captain Bill Miller, both parents were taken to separate facilities for questioning. The investigation is ongoing.
“What happened in between the call at Moose's Tooth and when we saw the vehicle and the mother is what the detectives are trying to determine right now,” Miller told Channel 2. “What happened in between the call at Moose's Tooth and when we saw the vehicle and the mother is what the detectives are trying to determine right now.”