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SUV with kid stolen in front of officers

May 4, 2011 5:10:25 PM PDT
A search is on for the person who stole a woman's car with her 2-year-old child inside. It happened on the 2400 block of 6th Street in the Westlake District. The car and the child were found a short time later, but the suspect is still at large.

Police were investigating a vandalism incident near MacArthur Park. Two LAPD officers were on scene talking to a woman who had left her SUV running with her 2-year-old son strapped in the backseat. It was parked near the squad car. A man came and sat in the vehicle and drove away.

Laneisha Stevenson didn't want her face on camera. But she did speak to Eyewitness News about the incident.

"I was pulled over by the police officers discussing a dispute that had happened earlier and a Hispanic guy just came out of nowhere, and he basically just hopped in my car with my child being in the back and drove off," said Laneisha Stevenson, the child's mother.

Stevenson says at first she thought it was a police officer moving her vehicle so it wouldn't be blocking traffic. But when she realized it was a brazen car thief, she says she jumped into the back of the police squad car and started directing the officers.

"My officers then got into their police vehicle, broadcast what had occurred, and attempted to locate the vehicle," said LAPD Sgt. Michael Mabie. "By the time they had rounded the corner, the vehicle was nowhere in sight."

Police put out a broadcast to all units in the area to watch for a stolen burgundy M-class Mercedes SUV. Minutes later police found the vehicle abandoned at 3rd and Coronado streets with the child unharmed in the back seat. But there was no suspect in sight.

"The child was in the back seat," said Mabie. "The vehicle had tinted back windows. We believe the suspect had no idea that the child was in the car. Once he probably realized that the child was in the car, that is when he abandoned the vehicle at 3rd and Coronado."

Stevenson says she's relieved her son Derion is OK. Now she hopes police can eventually track down suspect.

"Oh my gosh, I just hope that they catch him," said Stevenson.

Police do not have a suspect description. They're hoping surround surveillance video may yield clues.