Beaverton, OR – A mother who left her four-year-old son in her running vehicle while she ran an errand was accosted for being an irresponsible parent by a man who stole her car with the boy inside.
The incident occurred outside the Basics Meat Market on S.W. Canyon Road at approximately 9 a.m. last Sunday, WSAZ reported.
Crystal Leary told the news outlet that she left her four-year-old son in her car with the engine running while she ran into the store to pick up a couple of items.
After she disappeared into the shop, a car thief jumped behind the wheel of her vehicle and sped off, taking her son with her, WSAZ reported.
But he returned a moment later – yelling at her and threatening to call the police because she had left the boy in the car, Leary said.
“He actually lectured the mother for leaving the child in the car and threatened to call the police on her,” Beaverton Police Department (BPD) spokesman Officer Matt Henderson told The Oregonian.
The suspect demanded that she take her child out of the vehicle before he sped off with her car for the second time, WSAZ reported.
Leary’s son was not injured during the incident.
The suspect, a white male in his 20s or 30s with braided, dark brown hair, has not been located, WSAZ reported.
He was last seen driving Leary’s silver 2013 Honda Pilot.
Leary said she regrets having made a poor decision and said she is very thankful her child is safe.
“As moms, we get really busy, and we think we’re just running in for a second. This is just a perfect example of letting our guards down and how terribly it could have ended,” she told WSAZ, breaking down into tears. “So, I’m just thankful that he’s OK. It was so stupid, and I’ll never do that again. But it’s that split-second decision that could just change everything.”
Officer Henderson said that Leary was never more than 15 feet away from the vehicle when she ran into the store to grab meat and milk that day, The Oregonian reported.
“What she did was not a crime. She was within sight and sound of her child,” the officer said. “But she left the car running. So, take that extra step. Take the keys with you. It’s a good reminder to take extra precaution when we have our little ones with us.”
Officer Henderson said he is thankful the car thief “had the decency” to bring the little boy back to his mother, The Oregonian reported.