Progress. And a Carjacking

Hey Readers: Here’s an odd story of a Texas mom who took her 2-year-old son fishing, early in the morn, with her boyfriend. The mom decided it was too cold, and put the boy back in the car while she went to retrieve the gear. In that window of time, a guy came, stole the car, drove off with it, ran a red light and turned around — after realizing there was  a kid in the back seat!

The mom yelled at him. He yelled at the mom: “Why’d you leave a kid in there?” He fled, cops came and — here’s the progress — the mom was NOT cited for depraved indifference to a child, or endangerment or anything!

Because she WASN’T indifferent. She was sensitive to her boy (it’s cold!) and not being irresponsible (going to get the gear and return to the car) and once in a while, weird things happen.

That is not negligence and kudos to the Galveston police for realizing that!  — Lenore

32 Responses

  1. And let’s not forget that the carjacker came back! I mean, even a criminal is not a completely terrible person. He brought that boy back and told the mom what he thought, although I have to imagine that he was just pissed off that he had to come back and his carjacking was thwarted. But he didn’t kidnap the kid or leave him in the cold somewhere, or worse.

    I think that’s a pretty amazing thing too.

  2. I’ve read several stories of carjackers returning the car when there’s a child inside. Not that I want to use my kid as a carjacking deterrent, but still. It’s a completely different mindset to take a car than to take a child.

  3. Kudos to Galveston indeed. I have observed that, for some reason, much of society treats kids in the car alone–no matter the context of the situation–as tantamount to dumping them off in the remote woods like a dog or cat you’re tired of. That’s just nuts. Context matters. I guarantee you many a person, had they seen her fishing with a 2 year old outdoors in the cold–no matter for how short of a time & how well he was dressed–would’ve taken the mother to task for that.

    With so many people you just can’t win, so I long ago learned to just not care what they think nor edit my parenting behavior based on it. I trust my own judgment & will listen to advice from people who mean well, so we’re fine.

    As a side note the crook had some nerve asking the mother “why did you leave a kid in there?” I’d answered “it’s MY kid and MY car I don’t owe you an answer to your question.”

    Loading the story now to see if any such judgmental types are calling for charges to be brought up on the parent–and if I can add comments.

    LRH

  4. That kind of reminds of the story that was posted here, not too long ago –

    freerangekids.wordpress.com/…/the-bicyclethree-sleeping-children-thief/

  5. The carjacker was totally unreasonable in yelling at the mother about leaving her kid in the car. But, at least he brought the kid back. At least we know he has a little bit of brains and I hope people realize that all criminals aren’ts deranged child murderers. Stupid? VERY!

  6. We had a similar story in our area a few weeks ago. A guy left his 6 year old in the car while he went and paid for gas, and his car was stolen with the girl inside. They found the girl and the car 10 minutes later. The guy must’ve freaked when he realized there was a child inside and bailed. Thankfully, like this story, the dad wasn’t charged with anything.

  7. “Why’d you leave a kid in there?” LOL! Imagine a thief giving out parental advice!!! And a helicopterish thief, at that! Aw, I wish the mum had just delayed him, asking where HIS kids were while he dutifully carjacked, and how he could be sure they were safe and sound and ate all their veggies while he was gone.
    Priceless.

  8. PS (I thought this was in the original post, oh well)–yes I see many in that article are casting stones at the mother. I’m headed there to comment & “go all Lenore on them” (how do you like that phrase, ha ha) with a little “Larry punch” of my own thrown in. (The “Lenore” part is how the parents actually were being responsible & showing good judgment, the “Larry” part is how the parents don’t owe the thief nor people in general any apology or explanation as to why they left their kid in the car & people need to mind their own business).

  9. I have to admit this makes me feel a lot better. I live in DC where car jackings are quite common. On at least three occasions driving home, I have been caught in a traffic jam that is the aftermath of a car jacking. While I don’t spend my days worrying about them, the idea of someone taking my car while my kids are in it, it the top of the list of somewhat irrational parental fears for me. It is reassuring to hear of the number of criminals who abort their mission when they realize a kid is in the car. Not that I welcome a situation like that, but…..

  10. Something similar happened in our city too, but the child was gone for about half a day, I think. The mom wasn’t charged, but she was practically pillaried by anyone and everyone, saying she should never have left the child in the car, etc. etc. and what a terrible and neglectful mother she was, how dangerous it was to do this, and it just went on and on. Poor woman.

  11. I’m bothered by the fact that the newpaper article commented that the mother was not cited for child endangerment. This indicates that there was some thought that she could have or should have been – that leaving a child in a parked car for a few seconds while loading up the car is something that merits consideration of child endangerment.

  12. I like these stories because they serve as a reminder to moms that not every person in the world wants your kid. Most of them really DON’T want your kid.

    I will add to the list of stories, also from Texas: About 5 or 6 years ago, several men robbed a bank near us and fled. These were really bad men who were not afraid of using violence. They shot at police cars several times. However, at one point, just down the street from where I work, they decided to change cars by car jacking a car from someone stopped at a stoplight. They opened the door, yanked the woman out, then noticed a baby in the back of the car, left that car, and carjacked another.

    Maybe we have finally found a use for the “Baby On Board” signs-theft deterrents.

  13. Donna I agree, and as you’d expect, commenters were all over the parents’ case just as you are suggesting. But don’t worry, I went over there, registered so I could post–and, just as I said I would, I “went Lenore” on them with a little “Larry punch” thrown in.

    That is, I pointed out how leaving a child in the car in that context isn’t unsafe at all & was actually the better decision to make & the police made a good judgment in not citing the mother (“Lenore”) and I big-time abonished people for judging the mother and thinking they have the right to tell someone how to parent their children (“Larry”).

    So don’t worry, there’s a post there from “our side.”

    LRH

  14. “That is not negligence and kudos to the Galveston police for realizing that! – Lenore”

    Baby steps…

  15. I love your blog. I’ve added it to my favorite bookmarks and subscribed in a reader. Looking forward to reading more posts by you. Thanks.
    16:03

  16. It’s really a reminder that absent a serious pathology, most people (even desperate, homeless thieves) have a profound resistance to doing harm to a child, even a child they’ve never met before and even when avoiding harming the child might be personally dangerous (as it was in this man’s case, since he couldn’t have known what kind of retribution would be waiting for him).

    This is much like the baby on the subway story in a way, it shows that even entirely accidental caregivers to children will, generally speaking, attempt to act in the child’s interest and return them to their parent. This isn’t just a triumph for the wisdom of the Galveston police department (though indeed, kudos to them) but it’s also a great triumph for the type of “news” story we don’t see because it’s so commonplace; a stranger (even an unsavory one) doesn’t harm a child when provided the easy opportunity to do so.

  17. There is some honor among thieves. Even in prison, rapists and pedophiles are despised. Hence why they are separated from general population. They wouldn’t survive the week. But I digress, it’s good the thief brought the car back, he must have grown up in a sheltered life. 😉

    The Galveston police has more common sense than some other police we’ve had the opportunity to hear about. I take it Galveston is a smaller community in Texas? Smaller community authorities seem to be more relaxed and level headed than their big city counterparts. But then again, a level head does go hand in hand with a less stressed mind.

  18. I call my daughters, ‘The Club’.

  19. Actually, it kind of makes sense that car thieves would not want to jack a vehicle with a kid inside. Someone reports a stolen car, the police response is most likely to be “sorry, that sucks, but please file a report and maybe we’ll find your car (but probably not before it’s stripped, if ever).” Someone reports a stolen car with a KID inside it, the response is mostly likely to be immediate and most definitely not of the “file paperwork” variety. Seems a pretty simple choice from the thief’s POV: It’s far more of a hassle to steal a car with a kid in it than without. Still, good to hear that the mom hasn’t been subject to any legal harassment – although what she’ll be subjected to on a social level is still bound to be unfair and uncalled for.

    And @ Sean’s comment – that’s a hilarious WIN right there.🙂

  20. The guy who stole the car had the temerity to YELL AT THE MOM?!??!?!!!!

    I don’t know whether to laugh or explode with rage!

    And yes, MFA Grad, that’s a point oft made here — leaving your kids in the car isn’t really dangerous “In case of hijacking” because unless the person is unusually depraved (and I mean unusually literally) HE DOESN’T WANT THE KIDS. Leaving the kids there is almost like theft-proofing!

  21. HA HA HA HA HA – I would have given that carjacker a piece of my mind. Holy moly.

    She is fortunate that he brought the kid and car BACK – he could have dumped him at the nearest gas station and proceeded off with the vehicle. I know… Debbie Downer.

    At any rate, glad the guy brought the kid back – though it seems common sense (at least on this board) that he wouldn’t have kept the kid regardless of where he left him. I’m more floored by the fact he took the car back!

  22. Living in an urban setting, we park our cars on the street. I have small four kids, sometimes two will fall asleep in the van. I always leave the oldest with the youngest, and carry the third child with the second child up the stairs to the screened porch. Then I go back. Not worried about car jackers, as much as someone passing by seeing a baby in the car. At least if I have one child that speaks, she/he can point to the fact I’m 30 feet away.

  23. NEWS FLASH Insurance companies now require two year olds installed as anti theft devices on cars.

  24. “She is fortunate that he brought the kid and car BACK – he could have dumped him at the nearest gas station and proceeded off with the vehicle. I know… Debbie Downer.”

    You’re right that he could easily have done that, and it wouldn’t have been surprising — but really it was in his interest to bring the kid back.

    The way he acted, he’s probably not criminally liable for anything other than car theft. Had he acted in any way other than actively returning the kids to where they were found, all kinds of other, much more serious, charges could have come into play. While many criminals aren’t smart enough to act in their own self-interest in this way, it’s understandable that the common car thief doesn’t want to become a kidnapper or even child-endangerer just because he forgot to check the back seat first.

  25. Reminds me of an old story: When rape was being addressed in India, Parliament proposed a curfew for the WOMEN. Until Indira Ghandhi said that they were the innocents, and that the curfew should be for the MEN! What’s with our tendency to blame the victim?

    And kudos to the thief, in the act of crime or no, yelling or no, for bringing the child back to his mother. I think the appropriate response is thank you.

  26. This happens yearly in our winter city of a million folks; sometimes multiple times a season.

    I wouldn’t call it car jacking, but rather car theft. When the thief sees a car running outside a coffee shop to stay warm in the cold weather, keys in the ignition, they can’t resist and jump in and drive off.

    A block later they notice two kids sleeping in carseats in the back seat. Oops!!! Now I’m not just a thief, I’m a kidnapper, too! They usually abandon the vehicle less than ten blocks away, though I’ve never heard of one actually driving it back. I think I remember one criminal calling 911 to say where the vehicle was…

  27. I’m glad the kiddo was returned, and I’m glad no one had the audacity to suggest she was irresponsible. However, whether I’m at a gas station and running in to pay, or running back into the house when my kids are strapped into their car seats and damn it all, I’ve forgotten my wallet again, I lock my car doors.

  28. Wow. On a related note, there is a sign posted on the main office door of my kids’ elementary school that warns parents not to leave kids alone in a car “even for a minute.” Dangers listed include death and kidnapping. They should also list “deterrent.”

  29. Larry, I tried backing your play on the site, but I’m having some technical issues there. But I agree with you completely. Nothing this woman did was illegal or dangerous. Even if it could be seen as poor judgment, I dislike the idea of making poor judgment a criminal issue.

  30. This is Texas. They have are more reasoned approach to some of hysteria engulfing the country.

  31. @erics –
    Geography/sociology lesson – Galveston (and if you can type that word without hearing Glenn Campbell singing you are a youngster) is a charming, eccentric, beautiful and hurricaine-prone island about an hour down the freeway from Houston. In the 25 years I’ve lived in Houston, I can honestly say that every BOI (Born On the Island) I’ve ever met was certifiably nuts. Great folks, but nuts. The tourist stands sell T-shirts that say “Galveston – A Small Country Near Texas.” It’s a fun vacation destination, when they aren’t having a hurricaine or an oil spill.

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