Quit Ragging on the Car-jack Parents!

Hi Readers: Here’s one of many incensed folks who is slamming the parents who had left their baby in the car for a few seconds when along came a carjacker. (Video below.) The parents — right nearby — valiantly broke the window, climbed in and stopped the guy. But many commenters are saying SHAME ON THEM. They were “irresponsible” for being out of the car (which was left with its keys in the ignition, heat on) even a few feet away, for even a few seconds.  Here’s one comment:

The whole situation could have been avoided if they acted like rational adults.

Leaving a car with the keys in the ignition is akin to screaming, “Hey, come steal my vehicle!” And the Richmans left their 6-month-old, who can’t defend herself, right where a criminal could find her.

They claim a good reason — it was cold in Kansas City — but somehow the rest of us living in cold climes manage to deal with that one.

I’ve taken my child out of the car many a time despite the freezing cold simply because I wanted her to be safe. I picked my locations carefully: if I was at a gas station in my hometown, I’d ask someone I knew to watch her. Better yet, I’ve opted out on situations where I knew it was impossible to both accomplish a task and keep her warm.

So now GOOD parents are expected to avoid ALL situations when they can’t have their children literally in their arms or held by the hand every single second?

I can already see this one rare, disturbing incident  being used as the next, all-trumping, “What If?” query: “What if you are returning a shopping cart to the cart return for 10 seconds and your kids are carjacked? Don’t risk it! It happened in Kansas!” etc., etc.

They say hard cases make bad law. Weird, scary, extremely unusual incidents make bad prototypes for parental behavior. — Lenore

P.S. Readers — This just in. A police captain telling parents that kids left alone in cars for any length of time face carbon monoxide poisoning, carjacking and predators who are on the constant lookout for prey. “In this day and age,” says someone else on the report, you can NEVER leave your kids alone, even for the blink of an eye. Parents who do face jail time.

118 Responses

  1. Hrm…and here I was thinking that I blinked my eyes and he’s already reached 15 years old!

    And apparently against impossible odds, too. Given that I left him in cars to return shopping carts, let him go hiking and camping in the wilderness, let him trick-or-treat, let him walk and ride his bike to school, let him learn to sharpen and use a whittling knife, let him light fires in the fireplace, let him go downtown with friends, and all manner of other things that probably had him close to death.

  2. “And the Richmans left their 6-month-old, who can’t defend herself, right where a criminal could find her.”

    Except THEY were where they could defend her! By that logic, kids need to be locked in their rooms 24/7, because if they’re anywhere a criminal can find them, EVEN IF THE PARENTS ARE NEARBY TO PROTECT THEM, they’re endangered, being “right where criminals can find them.”

    “What if you are returning a shopping cart to the cart return for 10 seconds and your kids are carjacked? Don’t risk it! It happened in Kansas!”

    LOL. I’ve seen cars in parking lots almost backing into people with or without kids or carts at least 10 times more often than I’ve even seen “suspicious” looking people anywhere near my car
    (or really anyone approaching my car in the <30 seconds I usually spend returning a cart.) I'll bet kids being carried back to the car by parents returning carts have been hit a LOT more often (in Kansas or anywhere!) than kids have been carjacked while parents returned carts. Not that either is a reason to leave or not leave your kid while returning a cart — both are rare and mostly avoidable.

  3. Lets put the parents to prison and make the car thief a hero, for revealing bad parenting!!!
    Is that what all these judging, selfrighteous people want?
    Good for the parents in the story that they got their baby back…..and shame on the car thief to be stealing a baby!

  4. I normally say “right on” to everything you post about, but… Since I’ve known several people to have had their cars stolen when they left the keys in the car, it does seem like leaving keys in the car is something to be avoided. No blame, just a suggestion for the future, that leaving keys in the car is not such a great idea.

  5. I take my keys out every time I get out of my car. I’ve locked myself out on too many occasions!
    But in this case, the parents were no farther than if they had been pumping gas…and it’s newsworthy because it’s RARE. I say anyone who can break a car window with their elbow – while the car is in motion – to save an infant deserves a medal.

  6. true story

  7. I would have to agree partially on the quote. I have no issues about leaving my kid in the car unattended with the car running to keep the heat on. But even if it’s just for that minute or two that I step away, I would lock the doors. I always keep a spare key on my person. Carjacking is far more common than kidnapping, so I’d take precaution with THAT. And if I was with someone, one of us would definitely still be in the car. It’s true that an unattended car with the engine running is an invitation to any would be criminals in the area (especially if you live in an area with high crime rate).

  8. WANTED TO TELL YOU A “WHAT-IF” STORY THAT CAME ABOUT TO ME THIS WEEKEND! My husband had taken the kids to see Santa at the local fire department. They gave the kids LOTS of wonderful things. One great thing that caught my eye when I got home was the “c” firefighter sticker for a child’s window to let them know there is a child in that room. I immediately grabbed it and went to go place it on their window. My husband being a firefighter I thought he would be as thrilled as me. On the contrary; he instantly goes honey I don’t like those things. Me, I asked why. He said because they let predators know where our children are and will go to that window and try to kidnap them. I LAUGHED YES LAUGHED. I looked at him and said really honey you don’t think the bright pink princess curtains in our daughters room or the bright blue race car curtains in our sons room along with all of our “child” outside toys already give them that idea. He looked at me laughed and said two shay (or however you spell that). Those stickers are now in my child’s window! We have tried to become more free range since finding this site (I read it and just tell him about it). Thank you for letting us be free range!

  9. I know you’re joking about the grocery cart scenario, but I was actually on a popular mom’s forum a few months ago when this very battle began raging. One mom complained about people who don’t return carts, and other moms wrote in to say it’s too dangerous to return carts if you have kids!

    Sad but true……

  10. I just saw Tangled with my husband and 3 year-old daughter this weekend. The evil woman who pretends to be Rapunzel’s mother locks her up in the tower and tells Rapunzel she’s doing it to keep her safe. Here are the lyrics to the song she sings:

    http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/tangled/motherknowsbest.htm

    It seems frighteningly related to the theme above. Makes you think doesn’t it? Should we all lock our children in towers because of what could happen or should we teach our children how to be independent adults conscious of how to keep themselves safe? I hope more and more parents choose the latter but now I’m not so sure.

  11. Of course the real danger is when the car is moving. Children car jacked so few its national news. Children killed in auto collisions so many its below the fold

  12. Some days it feels like two steps forward, six steps back….sigh.

  13. And I always wonder how many kids the “I always manage to have my child glued to my body 28 hours a day!!!!!” people have. I have four, ages 9, 7, 4 and 1 and it’s A. ridiculous and B. impossible to pile everyone in and out of the vehicle numerous times “just to be safe.” Maybe for someone who has one kid in an infant carseat it’s no big deal to bring the baby with you to walk six feet to the ATM (for example), but give her a couple more kids who are mobile and she’ll see how absurd that really is.

  14. “In this day and age…” AAAAGH!!! I hate that phrase so much! So people didn’t steal cars 20-30 years ago?

    I don’t leave my keys in the car anymore, because my 10 year old heard about one of these carjacking stories and now she thinks it will happen to her (she still insists on being left in the car if I’m doing something “boring,” just not with the keys in the car). Interestingly enough, however, I once took my kids bowling and for some bizarre reason left my car RUNNING the whole time! Someone had to page me. My car was running in the parking lot for at least a half hour, totally unattended, and was never stolen. So, I have to believe that even car theft is a lot less common than we probably think it is.

  15. Look guys – I’m familiar with this scenario since it was in our local news. I agree that the parents were heroic and all that. But “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There’s a reason that we have a law not to go more than six feet from your unlocked, running car in city limits. Carjackings are just not that uncommon.

    If you’re going to be gone just a short while and it’s safe to leave the child in the car, it’s probably also safe to lock the car and take the keys. I don’t even have children, and I know better than to leave my car unlocked and running when I’m away. In cold weather, I might take the extra set of keys with me so I can lock the car.

    When taking risks, you want to look at the probability, the potential risks, and the cost of avoiding the risk. “A pound of prevention” isn’t worth “a pound of cure,” but if you can easily prevent a BIG problem, why not do it?

  16. Some people should be sterilized.

  17. I live in KC and I think folks around here are just especially prone to sticking their nose in where it’s not supposed to be. I’m constantly getting “in trouble” from people who’ve noticed I’ve left my son in the car to run into the gas station and pay. They insist that I should bring him in… even though he’s asleep from the warmth and movement and getting to sleep – EVER – is a miracle.

    Also, Lenore, you might want to make a note that that police captain who said it’s illegal isn’t in KS. I had to run and check and make sure that the *law* in KS is still that people can leave their kiddos for a very short period.

  18. @AmyR: I agree. It’s what we in the civilized FR, sane world call “common sense”, which even some parents, with the best intent, don’t have. People don’t leave their doors wide open when they go to bed. Why? Because it’s just common sense not to, regardless of where you live. Child or no child in the car, why would you leave it unlocked when it’s running? Especially in an area, according to you, that has a law to NOT leave your car unattended if it’s unlocked and engine is running. That alone tells me that the area has a high occurrence of car theft.

  19. I agree with the people who say that leaving your keys in the car isn’t smart. That wasn’t a good move on the parents’ part. But nonetheless, what Lenore quoted is a hideous overreaction and the remedy offered — never, ever leave your kids in the car *even in a situation where you’re close enough to protect them and physically able to do so* — is ridiculous. We need to remember that every dumb, careless move is not tantamount to being a terrible, irresponsible parent — people do mess up.

  20. I had to stop reading the comments on the linked article at page 4; couldn’t take it any more. But I see that some people here are advocates of “even if you step away for one second, take the keys.” But…these people were outside of their car, talking to relatives. They hadn’t gone anywhere, not inside to pay, not to the bathroom, nowhere. So you are saying that, if you were leading a convoy of relatives in vehicles, and you stopped at a gas station and stepped out of the car to touch base with some of them, you’d take the keys?

  21. AmyR – I think the consensus here is that leaving a running car unattended and unlocked because of carjacking was the part that was unwise. What we take issue with is the fact that the news commenters are stuck on the fact that there happened to be a child inside. The carjacker suddenly becomes a kidnapper, despite the fact that he most likely would have stolen the car anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t even know the baby was in the car until some point after he took it.

  22. Hmmm. I don’t think leaving your kids in the car for a brief time to do something like return a shopping cart, pay for gas, etc. is a horrible thing. But leaving the car running with the keys in the ignition while doing so? I’d have to say I agree that’s not a great idea.

  23. Oh, and what’s up with the carbon monoxide poisoning thing? Are adults suddenly CO repellents now? Last I checked, CO poisoning was a negligible, if any risk, to any car idling out in the open (running car in a closed garage? Yes, but that one’s a common sense thing, I thought), unless you’re piping the exhaust into the car from the tailpipe. Otherwise, I’d think more people in the northern states would be dropping dead from CO poisoning after letting their car warm up.

  24. pentamom – Regarding the locking kids in their rooms thing – nope, can’t do that either. Remember the girls that got kidnapped out of their own bedrooms?

    Nowhere is safe for kids, except tied to their parents with steel cable!

    (For those with terrible humor meters, yes, I am being sarcastic.)

  25. How the parents choose to parent their child is no one’s business. That includes the sheriff and the city etc, and the people who voted this law into effect deserve–I started to say they deserve to be shot, but I’ll tone it down appropriately, they deserve to be voted out of office immediately.

    AmyR is right, the whole “in this day & age” is bull. This whole paranoia has nothing to do with “how bad crime is,” but people’s attitudes. All you have to do to see this is notice how people won’t let their children play on any streets at all, even ones with very slow traffic and 25mph speed limits and “children playing” signs all over the place. By contrast, growing up, I–and many others–were allowed to play on just about any road we chose, except maybe a 4 lane highway with very heavy traffic flow.

    Do you really believe that, somehow, traffic–and the laws of physics per braking distance, reaction times, and the realities of what happens when child meets heavy moving car–have changed since the 1970s and 1980s? Last time I checked, a 1979 Chevrolet Impala and a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu both have a tendency to hurt a little when moving & striking little people.

    Here in eastern Texas, there is no law against leaving a child in the car, if it’s for no more than 5 minutes, and I dare any meddling, nosy snotty-ass do-gooder to tell me to my face that they don’t approve. It isn’t their damn business! Go mate with your man or woman and make your OWN kids to parent if you can’t help yourself.

    LRH

  26. In my old car, if I left it running, I would take my key fob and lock the car. My current car won’t let you do that, which I think is stupid. I don’t leave the car unlocked and running because car theft is very common (here anyway) when you do that. Heck, if I was prone to criminal behavior that is what I would do. But I would totally find a way to leave my child in a warm car (extra key, perhaps?). We need to STOP GUILTING PARENTS!

  27. Whoever says that children should be glued to their parents obviously doesn’t have more than two kids (one for each hand, I guess). That, or they really don’t get anything accomplished outside of nap times (and then, only housechores that involve having one of those video baby monitors at hand).
    I personally never leave both children and keys in the car when I’m not inside, but of course, I’m more concerned about my children carjacking than a stranger doing so.
    And about returning the shopping cart, or running in the cornershop for a quick errand, I’m more of the “get the kids do something useful” school. Why not letting them do it? (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to 6 mo babies…)

  28. have you seen this…I mean come one really~!
    Started atleast a week ago
    Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6th. Join the Fight against Child Abuse & copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same.

    Now they are saying this….
    ATTENTION:The group that is asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon character is actually a group of pedophiles. They are doing it because kid’s will accept their friend request faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has nothing to do with supporting children against violence, ITS ON TONIGHT’S NEWS copy and paste this to your status! Let every one know!

    Where do people come up with these things…UGH!

  29. therese — the good news is, all my facebook friends who changed their picture for this also added comments to the effect that they thought the idea of it stopping violence was stupid (self included.) This is the first time I’ve seen such a backlash against one of these meaningless campaigns — maybe people are finally getting fed up with the silliness of it.

    One of my FB friends posted this in response:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacktivism

    Love it.

  30. We changed our pictures because we thought using childhood favorite cartoon characters was cute, BTW.

  31. Beth — correction noted. I didn’t watch the video so I didn’t realize they were right by the car. That makes it all even sillier.

    BTW, leaving your keys in the car doesn’t leave you more vulnerable to “carjacking” because “carjacking” is taking the car by threat or force, not merely appropriating an available vehicle. The latter is “car theft.” Actual carjackers threaten or force you to hand over the keys anyway.

  32. @pentamom, I wasn’t clear either how changing my profile picture would help prevent child abuse. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the small backlash from my friends because I refused to do it – somehow I was “for” child abuse. I think I need new friends!!

  33. I hear you, therese — I saw where someone posted something mocking the campaign and someone commented, complete with vulgar language, that she was a terrible person because he was a child abuse survivor.

    Yes, mocking that which does no good to solve a terrible problem but makes people think they’ve done something, means you don’t care about the problem. Right.

  34. I saw this too Lenore, and it made me SAD.

    I am expecting, and have many children in my family, so I am familiar with the challenges of having and raising kids.

    Its a tough job. Frustrating, maddening. Demoralizing. Guilt-ridden already.

    Why, oh why do we need to TEAR down other parents? Why can’t we/don’t we SUPPORT other parents, rather then judge them? So instead of helping, we are making it harder for each other, and creating distance in the community.

    I think we have enough of that already.

    Recently, a tragic accident killed a young girl here. No drugs or anything, just some teenagers, being teenagers and an accident happened. However, I heard a LOT of blaming of the parents. I was on the edge myself, when it occurred to me that they were doing what they thought was right, and this was an ACCIDENT.

    why is blaming our first reaction? Is it to insulate ourselves from the tragedy? Does it make us think “well she died because they made bad choices, and I won’t make bad choices so my children are safe.”?

    this is a ridiculous way of thinking.

    I think we all needs to discourage the blame-game, and start to focus on support instead.

  35. Well, I did something just crazy on Sunday. I was at the movies with my 5.5 year old girl. The theater probably had 15-20 people in it at most. We got there early and had not eaten lunch, so we devoured the popcorn. So right before the movie started when the lights went out I went and got a refill on the popcorn. I left her there. I was probably gone 2 minutes at I knew the theater was dead.

    My thinking sure a guy was just waiting for me to get up and leave my child unattended to take her. When thinking about crime in general you have to think about probabilities. I can ride around with $10,000 in my car, but if no one knows it is in there then the likelihood of my car being stolen is no more than normal. Now if I tell some people about it then the probability goes up a ton depending on who you told.

  36. The overreaction against these parents is stupid.

    I was one of those attached-to-the-baby-24/7 parents when DD was a baby. Why? Because if someone wasn’t holding her All The Time, she screamed. Not fussed, not cried, SCREAMED. Nevertheless, I got a lot done and did all sorts of things. Cleaned the house (much more than now LOL), ran errands, hung out with friends, went to movies, ate in restaurants… (man, now I miss mat leave! That was a great year…) I “wore” DD in a baby sling and got on with my life. I was much less tied down than my mom acquaintances with the cribs and bottles and strollers. Just so y’all know that one can have an attached-at-the-hip baby and still have a life (and still end up with a very independent third grader!)

    I would never accuse someone of bad parenting because they left their baby in the car for a few minutes, tjough. Come ON.

  37. You would think these carjackers, who want to take property that doesn’t belong to them, would get smarter and first look in the back seat for anyone else before they steal a car.

    Instead of a baby, what if ‘the baby’ was a 11 year old that fell asleep on the long convoy trip and the parents were just feet away? Would it still be neglect of a child? At what age? 25? 35? What if it was grandma, weak and fail, with Alzheimer’s??? Elder abuse? Still negligence of the driver and passenger in the front seat to let the person sleep, while they stepped out for a few moments?

  38. Here me out, I might be on to something here:

    I drive a minivan. And while it is a nice make and model, and I did buy it brand-new, it is no longer in the shape it used to be. There is a little rust in places where it got knicked and I never had the paint touched up. There’s a crack in the bumper. And I’ve got a few stickers on the back. There are crumbs in the uphostery, which is also stained to the point where you can’t tell if it’s tan or grey. There’s even some stuffing coming out of the seats where the kids picked at it.
    But it runs great, and I know it’s going to get trashed because it’s my family vehicle. Can I afford a new one? Absolutely. But I’d rather save that money and buy the sweet ride I deserve for myself after my kids get out of the house.

    Now, point of all this…While I myself am middle-class, I live on the “affluent” side of town. Sure, there are a lot of other minivans like mine (dropping their kids off in front of the school), but they are newer and obviously frequently tended to. I can’t tell you the last time my car was washed, and it’s only been detailed once, because it was complimentary. More than that, I see lots and LOTS of luxury vehicles, particularly SUVs. A few Escalades and Navigators, buy mostly Acuras and Lexuses.
    These are the same parents that are helicoptering their kids, and worrying about getting carjacked while they get gas or put away a grocery cart. Well, duh, they’re driving a status symbol! I’ll happily leave my children in my (safe) shitbox while I mail something or grab a coffee.

    So, yeah, maybe the people in my neck of the woods do have something to worry about. But that’s probably because their carjacker is headed for the chop-shop with their high-theft-risk vehicle. And these theives aren’t kidnappers or murderers. These are the kind of theives like the one in the previous post about the car-jacker that turned around and yelled at the parents for leaving their kid in the car.

  39. @Erika and Lola: I second your suggestion of counting how many children this moronic people “you should take the kid with you at ALL times” have. And, let me add, how many multiples. If you think anyone would ever (wake up and) drag out of the car in the cold two sleeping babies, while keeping an eye on a very fast toddler, you’re crazy. Or you’ve never had twins.
    I can’t even start imagining how such idiots would expect a parent or caregiver to deal with triplets or higher multiples.

  40. Therese, here’s the conversation I had with my friend who posted the new status:

    ME: I promise this isn’t true. If pedophiles DID think it would help to change their picture to a cartoon, then whether or not *I* change my picture won’t make any difference. They can change their picture to a cartoon whether the rest of us do, or not.
    Plus, it’s not a “group” asking anyone to change their pictures. The only people who have brought it up are my friends, and I’m pretty sure I’m not friends with a pedophile. And let’s say it was a pedophile who started the status, and they were the first one to tell their friends to change their profile. Like I said, me changing my picture isn’t going to get them access to any other kids’ profiles.

    Friend: Beq How do you know your friends are not Pedophiles. We can’t trust anyone but our parents with our children. We that is me anyways OH and my siblings.

    Me: The fact still remains that it doesn’t make sense for pedophiles to try to get other people to change their pictures.😉
    And statistically speaking, your parents and siblings are more likely to molest your kids than anyone else. So THEY’RE the ones you can’t trust, not the people on facebook who you rarely see in real life.😉

    Friend: Well think about it. If everyone had a cartoon as the profile pic people would think twice on who they were excepting. But why the heck would parent not monitor there under age childs page. I know I would I was young and dumb once.

    These people just WON’T see the logic.

  41. The people criticizing the parents are morons.

    The most significant detail of the news story for me is how it could possibly be cold enough in Kansas City to need to keep the car running for warmth (she says as she types in her car with baby sleeping in back while it’s -20 celcius outside.)

  42. I’m more afraid of threats of jail time than I am of my car being carjacked with my kids inside.

  43. @therese: I was intrigued by your post regarding the FB profile pic. So I did some research, and this is what I found. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/06/viral-facebook-campaign-work-pedophile-masterminds/
    http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2010/12/06/rumor-pedophiles-started-facebook-cartoon-profile-pic-fad.htm

    Just another fear induced notion. But whether it was true or not, do we really need to let it cause fear in ourselves? That’s wear “how we educate our children” comes in.

  44. @HSmom: I would be more afraid of what world my children are growing up in, and how they see me as a parent than jail time. I’ll stand up for my rights, integrity and common sense, than give into people’s threats based on fears. And I’d want my children to know that they should never act out of fear (use common sense), and to always stand up for themselves.

    We don’t have a law that prohibits you from leaving a child in the car while you run in to grab milk or pay for gas (anything less than 5 min). So if an officer decides he wants to arrest me for that, and put my child in protective custody, he should know I have a lawyer and will take the city/police dept to court. I know my rights. 😉

  45. @Eric S. I agree. I don’t really change my parenting behavior (my kids are 7, 12 and 14 now, so not much worry about leaving them in the car… much)… But what I *worry* about isn’t carjackers, it’s “well meaning” passers-by with cell phones.

  46. It is just plain stupid to leave your car unlocked, and running in a public place. When it is cold a lot of people leave their cars running and unlocked while they run in for whatever or their card got declined and they had to run cash inside. Because of this thieves stake out gas stations because it is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    So yeah, the parents were pretty darn stupid to leave the car running and unlocked with the child in it. Neglect? no, stupid heck yeah!

  47. Yep, that’s sure to be in the best interests of a child, to jail their parents. Think of the quality time they’ll spend with one another on visiting day!

  48. So, on a related note, I occasionally leave my six- (nearly seven-) year old in the locked car (not running!) by the curb in front of the daycare center while I take my three-year old in. The older boy knows the rules: stay in seat, belted, door locked, don’t open the door or window for anybody. He usually sits there reading while I attend to business.

    A couple of weeks ago one of the front desk staff at the center asked me why on earth I was leaving my older son in the parked car by himself, didn’t I know something could happen? How did you know that, I asked her? Because, she said, I can see him on the video surveillance camera. Well, I said, then he’s pretty safe, isn’t he, if you can watch him on the camera.

    One of the center managers started to caution me not to leave him there, but I pointed out not only was this perfectly legal, but it was actually allowed within the guidelines the center operates under as “acceptable circumstances to leave a child alone”, and that leaving him in the car actually helped the center quite a bit since it cut down on the congestion at dropoff time.

    They haven’t hassled me since.

  49. Jo, do you *know* car thieves target gas stations, or do you just suppose it in the same way many people “know” (entirely contrary to fact!) that the world is more dangerous now than it was in 1980?

    How many cars a day, would you say, are taken from gas stations in this way? And what percentage of cars is that? That is, what is the actual likelihood of any one person losing their car in this way?

    I mean, it sounds more reasonable than “predators hang out in bathroom for children!!!!”, but that’s not saying much.

    The same goes for Amy – how common ARE carjackings?

    And Therese, because you asked – you spell it touche. Because it’s a French word. (There’s an accent in there too, but I can’t type accents.)

  50. Jules, I do think you’re on to something there. I drive the same type, only station wagon version. Clever of me, isn’t it? Not only can I pack it full of camping gear, daughter, and nephews, NO ONE would ever want to steal it. Station wagons are so not cool…

    My other thoughts:
    On what PLANET would it be safer to have your child, let’s say an active 2 year old, out of the car at a gas station? Especially if there are two or three or more kids you’re juggling, there is so much potential for a kid to dash in front of a car. They’re also short, so are less likely to be seen by a vehicle.

    re: the people getting prosecuted for child abuse and endangerment in the other article–I’m horrified, because two of the children were TEN! These were not neglectful people who left babies in the car while they gambled for 5 hours! These were regular, responsible adults making a reasonable decision. And as for the ten year olds, they will be legally (magically) able to babysit in less than than two years… perhaps closer to one year. Infuriating.

  51. Lenore? When can we leave a child in a car? My 11 year old wants to read and not come into the grocery store with me. My 7 year old wants to stay with her brother. Do I tell them: NO it is dangerous (for daddy, because i might get arrested or have you taken by child protective services) How about if my wife is with them? She is 9 years younger than I am. Is that bragging or ummmm I mean is that okay? What is the age of consent here…I mean Common Sense?

  52. Of course, it doesn’t help that laws are written so vaguely that anything can be defined as abuse or neglect.

  53. @ Jo:
    ” Because of this thieves stake out gas stations because it is like shooting fish in a barrel”

    Jo, I wish you would inform the police. It would be so easy for them to pick up the thieves- like shooting fish a barrel!- and our world would be so much safer.

    Or you could just stop making up facts.

  54. People should watch less TV, because that’s what I blame for the flap about all of this. Before the days of 24-hour-news, it would have been a freak story that merited a short newspaper article and a two-minute clip at the end of the local news. But because all these stations have to fill time, every angle gets dissected. The Deeper Meaning is probed for earnestly. Details will trickle out about these people, and positive or negative, they’ll come under examination too. Maybe the dad enjoys studying an offbeat form of martial arts, they’ll find experts in it to interview, and other practitioners. Maybe the mom ran track in high school, they’ll dredge up her teammates and old coach. People keep hearing about it to the point where they feel the need to form an opinion instead of just brushing it off as a scary, freak thing that happened to a stranger. Which is what it is.

  55. When this story was on the news, my sister (who has no kids) said, “That’s why you NEVER leave a baby in the car!” As a mother of an infant and a toddler, I understand why the parents left the baby for a few moments, they were trying to protect the baby from the weather. The only foolish thing I think they did was to leave it running. Don’t call social services on me, but I have left my kids in the car to run back into the house to grab something. I just lock the doors and hope I can get back before someone does call the cops on me.
    My question for people who think like this is… what am I supposed to do with my kids when it is below freezing and blizarding while I carry in the groceries? Cart them back and forth with me making 10 times more trips then have them both get sick??? I don’t think so!

  56. Sounds like this is not something we can judge without having been there. I’d say at least 95% of the stories people jump on (on the internet) are of this nature. Of course, that doesn’t stop anyone.

    It is disturbing that it seems our whole country has gotten caught up in what “could happen” to a child left in a car, while appearing completely oblivious to what “could happen” to the same child if brought out of the car.

    I agree, I am now that much more afraid to make a reasoned judgment about whether or not to leave my kids in the car for a few minutes. I have no more doubt about their safety, but have more distrust of the “well-meaning” passers-by.

    I looked up the law here and it says I can leave the kids under certain limited (but reasonable) circumstances. Yet, I know the cops are now looking specifically for these cases, and I don’t need to deal with reports, accusations, and worse. My poor kids are on their 3rd mom; the last thing they need is to be placed in temporary foster care or whatever.

  57. Rachael, I know exactly what you mean. When my kids were that little, I didn’t leave them because they would get scared. But boy, there were times when I wished I could. And there were times when I had to pass on going to the store because the weather was just too bad. I’m a single mom and I have had to take my kids through horrible weather because it was either that or run out of milk or diapers. Believe me, I don’t feel like a big hero for putting my kids through that. It felt rotten.

  58. No wonder there is a drop in the birthrate in the Western world. Who would want to have kids in that atmosphere?

  59. If there was still driveway service, where an attendant fills the car and collects your money, there would be no problem.

  60. On the other hand, Sandra, maybe it goes the other way – we have fewer kids, so we’re more careful (to the point of hypervigilance) with the ones we have. Families like the Duggars can’t possibly afford to spend that much time on their babies compared to parents with a more typical family size – and when you only have one child you’re more inclined to realize any injury to them would be to your ONLY child. Plus, of course, if you just have two kids or one you’re never an expert, because each time they go through a stage it’s the very first time. Scary stuff!

    That doesn’t mean big families are the way to go for everybody, and no, I don’t intend to share my views on that here and now. But when you’re pinning the future of your family on only a few children, it makes sense that you hover over them more than they did when they had more kids (and, for that matter, a higher infant mortality rate. There’s another thing – back in the days when some 1/4 of the kids died before they were five, well, they might die of disease at any point and nothing you could do to stop it. No point in trying to prevent them from getting injured when all your prevention had a big chance of being a waste of time.)

  61. Jules, I am right behind you in my 82 Suburban! Some rust, some dents, and so dirty that the kids doing the car washes put down their signs just so that do have to wash it! Lock the doors? Not unless I have something really valuable – I would much rather have a thief open the door and take what they think they need (chip wrappers?) than to break the window.

    I have 3 kids. My middle kid had issues when he was younger. I could NOT keep him near me. I used a leash with him until he was 4, and carried it as a threat until he was 6. Not because I was a helicopter parent, but because he could run – fast – and he would not answer when I called. Combined with the fact that he LOVED to hug everyone and would probably leave with anyone who asked. Get all three kids out of the car so I could go in and pay for gas? I don’t think so. By the time I got the other two out of their seats, one would have run in front of a car in the parking lot.

    Oh, and as to the keys in the car – I don’t leave them in the car mostly because I don’t trust my kids to not climb into the front seat and put the car in gear. These parents, sorry, I think they were perfectly reasonable. If they were in the midst of the cold and wind that we had a bit ago, the car would be running.

    I have to laugh about the Facebook thing. My 9th grade nephew has a photo of him with a cap that says “I heart my penis.” I thought the cartoon was much better (and actually told me something that I didn’t know.)

    Now to check out what the law is where I live now. In CA you couldn’t leave a kid in the car under age 12. Guess I should know what it is here for when I stop at the ATM.

  62. Seems to me that the odd of the poor kids dying of Pneumonia due to the cold temperatures are more likely that their car getting napped while they were standing right there.

  63. I want to comment on the Michigan law that makes it illegal to leave kids in the car that is vague enough that one could always be charged, because “one never knows”. This is my problem. I have always thought that I should follow the law even if I didn’t fully agree with it, because that is what you do in society. You obey the rule of the majority. So now, if I were in Michigan, I would have to take my kids out, into the winter weather, even to return a shopping cart, because that is the law. What is the solution? A letter writing campaign? How can we compete with big, fear-mongering media? I am going to be moving back to North America after 6 years of raising my kids in Europe. I am very apprehensive.

  64. 1 big incident = it’s happening everywhere all the time. The 24 hour news cycle rules. Argh!

  65. Okay just found out on the news, it is against the law in St Louis city and county to leave your car in idle when leaving it. The reason, it attracts car jackers. See the insurance companies still have to insure your car and the police still have to find who stole your car. Guess what? Neither cares that you are cold.

    If that was KC Missouri, pretty good chance they broke the same law since we seem to think the same way. So guys they very well may have broken a very clear law. Didn’t have anything to do with leaving the child in the car, just the idiocy of leaving your car with a big neon sign saying steal me please.

    Then again what good parent would leave their child in a car that says steal me please? At least to me one part of being a good parent is knowing the real threats. Knowing that car jacking occurs at a level high enough in idle vehicles to create a law says that is a real danger. The theft of the car that is.

    As I said before, these parents are stupid but not exactly neglectful, they did ignore a real danger. Yes maybe 10 cars are taken every year with a kid in them, still, most car theft is done at convenience stores on cars left unattended and idle.

    I wonder how many people here who are defending the parents choices would do so if they hadn’t left the child in the car? You know, leaving a kid in the car, something we always do. How many people here are answering as they do because they don’t want to think they are doing anything wrong.

    I have left my kids in a running car, that is locked, ya know, the second key. I have also left them in a locked closed car not running. What I have never done is leave my kids in a running unlocked car in a high traffic area. That is stupid and does put the kids at risk. People steal cars, they don’t want your kids in those cars any more than you do.

  66. Fear, control, fear, control, fear, control. Police, media, other parents. Check!

  67. It must be wonderful to live in these towns where there are, apparently, no parents who beat their kids or molest their kids or do drugs around their kids or neglect their kids or fail to feed their kids — so that the police and DFS have time to deal with those awful awful people who might leave a 5 year-old in the car for ten minutes while they get some milk. I want to know their secret for preventing all this real child abuse.

  68. I live in California and was recently doing some research on the laws here. Most of the time you will find things saying you can’t leave a child under six years old by themselves in the car unless there is someone over twelve in there with them, but when you find the full law, it states that’s only necessary when it’s not reasonably safe to leave them alone, like on a hot day, when you’re going to be away for a little while, and most importantly, if the keys are left in the ignition or the car is left running. So yes, according to CA law at least, you cannot leave a child under the age of six alone in the car for any amount of time if the keys are still in the ignition.

  69. *Hear

    What’s with my spelling/grammar slip-ups lately?

  70. I live in what I have lovingly dubbed “Podunk Hell” — it’s a tiny little speck of a town boasting a population of less than 800 people. I moved here a year ago from a relatively large city. My 9-year-old daughter’s 4th grade class consists of exactly 13 kids (hooray 20 minute graduation ceremony). Of these 13, only 3 of them are girls. The mother’s of the other 2 little ladies are both stay-at-homes. I, on the other hand, am a single mother. College educated and gainfully employed though I may be, Uber-moms #1 and #2 are insistent that I cannot possibly be as “good” at parenting as they are. And they call me on it regularly. *Gasp!* You leave your children alone in the house while you walk (literally) across the street to pick up a gallon of milk!?!? *Scream* You let the children go into the Post Office unattended while you wait for them in the car!?!? *The horror* You allow your daughter to ride her bike around the block without standing outside to watch her!?!? Yes. Yes. And yes. Honestly, it’s a tiny town… these people know I’m going to sneeze before I know I’m going to sneeze. If my kids aren’t safe on their own for 10 minutes here, we need to give up the fight and just drink the Kool-Aid.

  71. Okay, I leave my kids in the car with it running, but only if the doors are locked, and before I got a car with keyless entry I had my daughter climb out of her car seat and sit in the front so she could unlock my door for me, but I really think these people were stupid to leave their car running with the doors unlocked regardless of the fact that they were right there. I also wonder why one of them couldn’t have stayed in the car if they wanted to leave it unlocked.

  72. Oh, and Cheryl, I also don’t leave it running for that reason. My daughter (3), likes to climb into the front seat and pretend that she’s driving. She can get out of her carseat. She climbs up there one day while I’m loading the car with other stuff, and says “Mama, I’m drivin’!” I told her, “Yeah, you’re driving me crazy!”
    So now she climbs up there and says “I’m gonna drive you crazy!”
    It’s only cute the first 500 times.
    But I don’t leave it running for that reason (look at me! Thinking about safety! Using my best judgement!). Plus, she locked me out one day while she was doing that. Luckily, we were next door to the fire department, and I was with a friend of the firemen. I joke that my daughter is already trying to get the attention of men in uniform!

  73. “Jo, do you *know* car thieves target gas stations, or do you just suppose it in the same way many people “know” (entirely contrary to fact!) that the world is more dangerous now than it was in 1980?

    How many cars a day, would you say, are taken from gas stations in this way? And what percentage of cars is that? That is, what is the actual likelihood of any one person losing their car in this way?
    The same goes for Amy – how common ARE carjackings? ”

    Oh, I dunno; what percentage are you comfortable with? I found a stolen car in our driveway out here a few weeks ago (for real), although I’m sure the owners weren’t present when it was stolen in that case.

    My point is, why make it so easy for it to happen? It’s almost effortless to lock the door when you leave the car; it should be a habit. When you can lower a risk to zero (I’ve never heard of a car being broken into while the owners were there watching) by one simple step, why would you actually seek risk? High-cost risk-avoidance doesn’t make sense, but sometimes you guys seem to be looking for something bad to happen.

    Just FYI, “I did it once and nothing bad happened” is no more of an argument than “It happened once in KS so it could happen to you.” Both are equally unreasonable.

  74. Amy, I’m not saying you shouldn’t lock your doors. I am, however, saying that you shouldn’t throw around statements like “This happens all the time, thieves target gas stations for this reason!!!!” unless they’re actually true.

    “Knowing that car jacking occurs at a level high enough in idle vehicles to create a law says that is a real danger. The theft of the car that is.”

    That there’s a law does not actually imply that it currently happens in very high levels. When was this law passed? Perhaps carjackings were more common then than they are now. Who was the driving force behind the law? Perhaps insurance companies made the big push to avoid having to pay out claims, even though it’s not that common. Is this actually against the law? Perhaps this is just one of those things people say, but it’s not actually true – like the cops in NYC saying you can’t take pictures on the trains. They don’t like it, but it’s not actually illegal.

    I don’t know what the facts are. Maybe there really are a bunch of this sort of car theft over there, all the time. I have no flipping idea – and I’m not going to find out by guessing “Well, there must have been a good reason for this, and it must still apply!”

  75. To the people who continue to insist the parents were “stupid”… With that line of reasoning, do you feel comfortable being out in public, let’s say at a mall or park or movie theatre, with your children? Are they chained to you? If you are having a conversation with your 7 year old about how funny the movies is, and you’re standing across from her with 2 or 3 feet between you, do you not realize any bad guy could come along and grab her before you have the chance (or strength perhaps) to do anything about it? Or maybe you could, just like these parents who were standing nearby.

    Some people seem to fail to recognize the difference between locking your car to run into the store (ie. car is out of sight) and locking the doors to STAND BESIDE IT! It’ a pretty brazen (and I’d say unusual) thief who would take something when you’re standing right there.

    And also, no one has mentioned what the other probable outcome of this situation would have been. Let’s say the parents didn’t manage to stop the guy. Most likely he would have, at some point, turned around and realized he just kidnapped a baby. Car thieves don’t want babies! They don’t want kidnapping charges because the consequences are much, much larger! All they want is a car to make some money. So he likely would have either dropped the kid off somewhere or abandoned the car in short order.

    Or, do we really think he would have looked at the baby in the back and suddenly pedophile urges of the most unlikely kind would have sprouted? Or baby-murdering urges? Even the vast majority of criminals could not bring themselves to murder a baby, and only the rarest of pedophiles (who I would wager tend not to be car thieves) have sexual feelings about babies.

  76. It is amazing to me that people who are onboard with the kidnappings-don’t-happen-all-the-time mentality are so willing to accept that a carjacking will happen the second a car is left on and unattended for 2 seconds. Carjacking is more common than kidnapping but certainly not a common occurrence. For every carjacking (defined as a car that is running and the owner just left for a minute) we have, there are probably about 100,000 cars (turned off and locked) stolen from driveways and parking lots. We hear on the news about carjackings because they are sexier than a car stolen from the parking lot at the mall.

    Stranger-on-stranger crime is actually the exception to the rule. Yes, all of you will pipe in that you or someone you know was a victim of a stranger crime. I didn’t say that it was unheard of; just that it was not a common form of crime. Most crime is committed by people who have some contact with the victim. They either (1) know the victim well (family member, friend, neighbor, employee, ex-employee; (2) had some brief/sporatic contact with the victim (landscaper, cleaning lady, plumber, delivery person, cable installer); or (3) don’t know the victim personally but live or work in close proximity. That is why the biggest indicator of whether you will be a victim of a crime is poverty – poor people tend to commit more crimes and they commit those crimes most often against other poor people. Probably 95% of the victims in our cases are from the same socioeconomic level as our clients. At least half of them ARE our clients as well, if not right at the moment, in the recent past.

    For those saying that they are safe from car theft because they have an older car – WRONG. Outside of major, organized car theft rings (as rare as kidnapping pedophiles), the biggest target is the routine, run of the mill car. You are much more likely to have your Honda Civic stolen than your BMW. Criminals don’t generally want to go to prison. Criminals are from lower socioecomonic backgrounds. A BMW in the ‘hood is going to be stopped by the police because you are either a drug dealer or a thief. Further, cars are often stolen to be used in other crimes. A non-descript Civic is less likely to draw attention than a flashy car. Keep in mind that the top 3 stolen cars for 2008 in America were – 1994 Honda Accord, 1995 Honda Civic, 1989 Toyota Camry. Not a single new or status car amongst the top 10.

  77. With that line of reasoning, do you feel comfortable being out in public, let’s say at a mall or park or movie theatre, with your children? Are they chained to you?

    Seriously, you guys all have to read Museum of Thieves when you get a chance.

  78. Well, in that case, I’d like to put it out there to any criminal who wants my 1998 Ford Escort, with rust under a couple doors, an exhaust pipe that makes clunking noises, and a muffler that is not doing its best job at the moment… come and get it! I’d gladly take the insurance money.

  79. So far I have heard you can’t leave your child in the car, you can’t take them out in cold or hot weather (they might get frostbite or sunburned). You can’t let them play in the park unattended (even for a moment), you can’t let them walk to school and you can’t let them play on swings or other “forbidden” playground equipment.

    Where will it end? What kind of paranoid fearful generation are we raising? If this keeps up we are gonna turn into a society that never leaves the house for fear we might get hit by a bus.

  80. OK Uly, we’re getting closer (which is more than you can say at a lot of internet discussion forums)! I recognize you were calling out someone who said it happens “all the time.” That was certainly subjective and over-the-top. On the other hand, I do see news reports periodically where it happens. (The last one that stands out on my mind was a few years ago [full disclosure], but I assume it made the news because there was a child in the car that time too. Presumably run-of-the-mill car thefts don’t all make it into the news.)

    The local police force used that one from a few years ago as a public-education opportunity – not in a sensational way – and they stepped up with another reminder last year when cold weather hit. All of that makes me think that it is a realistic threat, and that the rate might possibly be higher if it weren’t for those of us who are careful. Again, I’m just advocating for the “ounce of prevention/pound of cure” policy.

  81. Thanks for the recommendation, Uly. That book sounds like a fun read! I’ll check it out.

    Ok, one more comment… again, with this line of reasoning, what’s next? Will we be required to keep our house doors locked at all times of the day or night, for fear a baddie could walk right in with a gun and do what they want? Because, you know, they actually could. It’s certainly happened before. Wouldn’t that be an “ounce of prevention”? (so much for kids being able to play outside and run in and out of the house for a drink, dry mitts, different toys, a bathroom break…) Where do we draw the line of “this is extremely unlikely”??

  82. Oh, and of course I believe whole heartedly in prevention. Eat reasonably healthily. Exercise a reasonable amount. Wear seatbelts. Teach kids to cross a street with skill. Etc., etc. Prevention rocks! But there still has to be a line, or no one would ever do anything at all, for fear. But unfortunately, they would be sick physically and emotionally from never doing anything! There has to be a balance between the types of prevention, or they start infringing on each other.

  83. The trouble with getting information from local news is that you don’t know why they’re reporting what they are. Is it because this is common and you should know about it? Or because it’s unusual and interesting and they hope it will boost ratings to tell us about it at 11? Or because the people making these decisions watch the same sort of news shows they produce, and so feel that things are very dangerous but don’t have the facts one way or another?

    It can make it very hard to sort out what the actual risk level is for any given activity, unfortunately. And you know, I like to know these things. I like to know if leaving my back door unlocked is mildly risky (I have, say, a one-in-ten-thousand chance of somebody coming in and taking my laptop) or incredibly risky (I have a one-in-five chance of being raped and murdered in my bed). But checking the news is unlikely to help. They always talk about “Hidden dangers you don’t know about that could kill you – let’s hope they don’t, because we won’t tell you what they are until 9 pm!”, never about “Obvious dangers that aren’t that dangerous, so go out and live it up, turn off your TV!”

    I just like facts.

    (On a different issue, let’s say the parents really showed incredibly poor judgment. Maybe they picked THE most dangerous spot in town to leave their car unattended like that, a place which sees 20 car thefts a week and is home to three dozen pedophiles. What good does it do to blame them – which IS what a lot of people are doing? Shouldn’t we blame the criminal?)

  84. And incidentally, I do think people should lock their doors when out and about, just as a matter of course. It’s not an undue hardship : )

    But of course a determined thief doesn’t care if your doors are locked, they’ll find a way in anyway, so I can’t spare the energy to criticize people for NOT doing what I think they should.

  85. I’m serious, though. I weigh stuff out this way. For instance, working in secretarial jobs, we deal with a lot of paper records. Sometimes there is a slim chance that we will need to look up a a paper copy 6-8 months down the road. If we simply stacked all the paper in “chronological order,” and that slim chance came to pass, we might have to spend, say, three hours searching through that file to find the record. To avoid that chance, my boss might want me to spend an hour a week filing, all through the year. Fifty hours a year to avoid a small chance of wasting three hours. That’s a pound of prevention for an ounce of cure.

    On the other hand, we used to know with certainty that we were going to be called upon to produce a random list of transactions at audit time, with maybe an hour’s notice. If we spent five minutes a day filing those transactions, it was an ounce of prevention.

    Most risk-taking situations fall somewhere between those two, and it is admittedly a subjective decision whether the effort is worth the risk or not. But taking an almost effortless step to protect us from a really bad consequence with a reasonable possibility of happening just seems like – as some of you are saying – common sense.

  86. Cross-post….

  87. “But taking an almost effortless step to protect us from a really bad consequence with a reasonable possibility of happening just seems like – as some of you are saying – common sense.”

    I don’t generally leave my car parked in my driveway running. It was 15 degress this morning so when I went out to bring the dog back in, I turned on the car so it wasn’t so frigid inside when we got in. I also at some point had my child alone in the running car since I told her to get in while I got the spare house key and locked the door. I figured that the risk that a carjacker would be walking past my house at 7:30am in the exact 5 minutes that my car was on and unattended was pretty miniscule. Yes, it could have happened but was extremely unlikely. It was not worth the effort of taking the car key off the key ring so that I could have my clicker in my hand and lock the door with the car still running nor was it worth my kid standing out in the cold while I got the spare key from the shed and locked the door. (Yes, I have a spare key hidden in my shed and not even hidden very well).

    And, frankly, unless I have something in the car, I rarely lock my doors. It will suck enough to have to replace a car stereo without having to replace a smashed window as well. I also frequently leave my house doors unlocked if we are only going to be gone for a short time. There are no personal possessions that anyone would be interested in taking that would break my heart and couldn’t be replaced if stolen.

  88. Donna, just wanted to say that I always appreciate your insight on this board. Thanks.

  89. I guess this means we have to watch our children in their bedrooms at home sleeping JUST IN CASE!

  90. A friend stopped at a convenience store and parked her Blazer in front of the doors. She had a laptop – she left it on the seat, and locked the doors. She went in and got a soda – 5 minutes max. When she came out the laptop was gone. Someone came up to the side of the car, jammed a screwdriver into just the right spot, jiggled and opened the door. No one even noticed. Since crime doesn’t often happen there, the camera wasn’t in operation.

    Do I blame the friend for the loss of the laptop? No, she was unlucky to have someone with that know-how and brazenness come by and take it from an area that would be easy for people to view it from.

    These people, traveling through another state (which, golly days, when I go from one side of the country to the other I don’t know all the laws and they don’t post them at the boarder) were unlucky. They happened to be there at at time when someone too brazen came along and tried to get their car. The fact that they were steps away seems a reasonable precaution against theft. They were able to hang onto the car – they weren’t 50 feet away or they wouldn’t have been able to do anything.

    Anyone check the weather to see how cold it was that night? It the wind was blowing to boot?

  91. It doesn’t matter how cold it was or how windy. The parents have every right to step out of their car to talk to a family member without dragging their child along with them.

  92. I don’t think people understood what I was talking about. The path of least resistance. It is why I have a burglar alarm I rarely use. You are on my street looking for a house to rob, are you going to risk my alarm or pick either direct neighbors who have no alarm?

    You want to steal a car but don’t know how to hotwire or pick a lock. You want to go where there are more cars to choose from, like a parking lot. You want to go where it is more likely someone will leave a car idling unattended. You go where people will run in and out, that would be a convenience store.

    Anyway the biggest question that has been on my mind is why were they hanging out outside the warm car in the first place? Everything about this story was just turns of bad luck but that bit. You have this nice warm running car but you stand outside just a few feet from it. What the heck is that all about?

  93. The problem would have been prevented if they simply removed the keys. The kid wouldn’t have been any colder than had they brought it outside.

  94. You have this nice warm running car but you stand outside just a few feet from it. What the heck is that all about?

    Gosh, just off the top of my head I can think of several possibilities….

    1. They wanted to smoke.
    2. They wanted to have a private conversation – possibly a loud or angry one – away from little ears.
    3. They were waiting for a friend who would find it easier to see them than their car.
    4. They wanted some fresh air.
    5. They find the cold breezes bracing.
    6. They wanted to talk to relatives who wouldn’t all fit in the car (this seems to be what happened)
    7. They were minding their own business, something you don’t seem to understand.

  95. Uly, you forgot one.

    8. They needed to stretch their legs.

    Something common and suggested for one’s physical health when one takes long trips, to prevent leg cramps or blood clots which may be more prevalent if one has diabetes.

  96. Ah, thank you, Renee!

  97. We have a local radio station here that keeps running PSA’s about how it’s illegal to leave your car unattended with the keys in it and how it also makes things easier for car thieves. A good number of cars that are reported stolen are because someone left the car unattended for a short amount of time, even if it was in eye sight, and a carjacker came along.

    I really see both sides to this one.

  98. On a sort of off-note, I have a real problem with a law that says it’s illegal to leave keys in the car due to risk of carjacking. That fails to respect one thing–it’s my car, and stealing is a crime. Period.

    That is just ascinine. Respect of a person’s right to their property, not worrying about what makes life convenient for the police, should be the order of the day. Laws like this would be like making it illegal for a woman to wear a bikini at the lake because it “increases the risk of rape,” or making it illegal to put real nice “rims” on your car because it’s an “attractive nuisance.” Totally the wrong perspective. If I wish to leave the keys in my car, that’s my business, I don’t care how the police feel about it; it’s not their car, to hell with their opinion.

    LRH

  99. Let me ask a question. Where I live, I am finding several inches of snow on my car every time I need to take my kids somewhere. So I unlock the doors, start the car (to get the defoggers working), let my kids in, get out and start cleaning off the car. I don’t have automatic unlockers or whatever, so if the key is in the car and I’m not, the door has to be unlocked.

    SO, am I just asking for my kids to be abducted? What (short of buying a much more expensive car) is my reasonable alternative?

  100. Move someplace without any snow, and hire a team of nannies – two for each child! – so you never have to risk leaving one unattended even for so long as a sneeze.

  101. SKL let me ask you a question. As you are cleaning off your car are you ignoring everything else going on around you? If you don’t notice someone walking up to your drivers side door you are getting too into the cleaning process.

    I have left my younger two in their car seats sleeping while I watched my older daughter’s soccer game when it was cold. I stood around 10 feet from the car and it was in plain sight. If anyone came within 20 feet of that car I started walking over. Yeah easier to do on a soccer field than a quick shop, still.

    There is nothing wrong with leaving kids in the car. It is just you have something pretty darn valuable in that car, why not take a little effort and pay attention.

    I always hate that when people point out simple things to protect yourself against crimes people jump all over you are blaming the victim.

    In the end the news story is poorly written, because the goal was to make the parents look bad. For all we know she dropped something and they both looked down to grab it. It only takes one second and they did all they could to get the child back. We don’t know so we question the whys. Whys that the reporter knew the answer to but left them out so we would read their darn story, link to their story, discuss their story and make them look like a better reporter than they are.

    Oh and the list of things they may have been doing, thanks, that does make sense. I don’t know if you have ever been wrapped up in a piece that you don’t see the puzzle?

  102. Justjo, I think the operative question would be, how badly does somoene want to steal my car? Because if someone wanted to badly enough, they could sneak up and jump in while I was scraping the ice off the passenger side window, and I might or might not be able to stop them before they got away. This isn’t likely in my neighborhood, but who’s to say the neighbor teens won’t ever get bored and want a joy ride?

    I normally follow a different procedure if I’m in a less safe area. I’ll sit in my locked car and let the defoggers do most of the work, to the extent possible. Of course I’ll look around to see if anyone’s loitering before I’ll leave my unlocked car running, with or without kids inside. But again, if someone is determined enough, they would have a plan and I could be caught off guard.

    That’s why my first comment said, I can’t judge without knowing more. Was the car in an obviously unsafe place? Exactly how far away were the trusted adults and for how long? If the action was unsafe based on all the surrounding facts, what was the reason for the parents to leave the car?

  103. By the way, you can get car-jacked even if you don’t get out of your car (intentionally). Is that also bad parenting? What’s the difference?

  104. Bad parenting is not raising a viable member of society. Everything else is trial and error.

    Perhaps you are reading something more into my responses because I consider the child in the car irrelevant. My question has always been whether it was good judgement to leave an unlocked car running in a high traffic parking lot. Although I am sure the chances are still small someone will try to steal your car both criteria increase your chance of someone attempting to steal your car.

    It does not appear to be good judgement but we don’t know.

    So far as your car-jacking scenario it again has nothing to do with a child being in the car. If you go into a neighborhood known for car-jackings because it is a bit faster than going a safer route then you have used poor judgement.

    I could be reading you wrong but you seem to have this attitude that we should not minimize risk. Most people will still look both ways while crossing with a green light in a crosswalk. That is minimizing the risk of someone hitting you that was not paying attention to the lights. You can say you had the right of way and they should not have run the red light but in the end you are dead.

    Say in this case there was a 10% chance a car left running, unlocked, that appeared unattended would be stolen. There is an 9% chance a car running but locked would be stolen. Lets give off but unlocked 9% as well and the same for appearing to be watched. Now give the three combos 8%, such as off, locked, or off, watched, or locked, watched. Finally locked, off, watched getting 7%. Although people shouldn’t be stealing cars shouldn’t the owner take responsibility for the percentage difference between best care and what they choose?

    Before you jump me again on what is a bad parent, making poor choices doesn’t make anyone a bad parent unless you make a habit of it.

    On your question of my statistics, or maybe that was Amy, I won’t pull stats for you. I am, amung other things, a statistician. I know how to manipulate data therefore I trust no data but my own. It is very hard to find the data that drives most published stats. No thanks I will continue to pull numbers out of …. and admit freely that is what I have done.🙂

  105. I recently went Christmas shopping w/ my 4 year old son. An unavoidable necessity. On one of our stops, someone gave him a helium balloon, which he wore on his wrist into the next store. This turned out to be very helpful, because if he was playing in the toys, one aisle away from the sweaters I was looking at, I could see the balloon over the wracks of clothes, even if I couldn’t quite see him. I’m sure there are many who would call this “risky”, but really. The would be abductor is going to take the balloon off his wrist, tie it to something else, and manage to get away with my 35 pound son without my noticing? Doubtful.

  106. Well, Justjo, I have to admit I’m probably not following you. The fact is, I cannot have my car running and locked at the same time unless I’m inside it. I cannot scrape ice off my windows if I’m inside it. There are times when I can’t drive without first scraping the ice off my windows. My kids seem safer inside the car than outside in a dark parking lot in an iffy area. I think sometimes you have to weigh all the risks and make an imperfect choice.

    If that comes across like me not wanting to minimize risks, maybe we’re not communicating.

    Yes, look around you and all that if you’re cleaning off your car. But that doesn’t make it impossible for someone to sneak up while you’re on the other side. Unless you’re significantly taller than your car, which I am not.

    Another tidbit – my car doors all automatically unlock when I turn the car off. I don’t know who decided this feature was a good idea. Isn’t it just asking for trouble if you’re in an unsafe neighborhood?

  107. Skl I think we are saying the same thing but differently. I am okay with that, hope you are as well.

    We do the best we can and sometimes bad things happen. What I mean by making it a habit would be running into that street almost getting hit over and over and not considering there may be a way to cross without dodging cars, like looking both ways. Or to put it in the context of the story if we find out next week that the same couple almost got their child nabbed at the same store in the same way. Sound fair?

    Apparently the auto unlock didn’t go over well because my Honda only unlocks the driver’s door. Then again not sure if that is a step in the right direction since I would think they are going for the driver’s door in the first place.😦 Meh, at least it locks them all if I were to forget when I start driving.

    What I have learned in self-defense classes is that the more you do to not be a target the more likely they will target someone else. My cousin owns a local alarm company. He put it this way, criminals are stupid and lazy, if they weren’t they would have jobs like the rest of us. Make it as easy as possible for them to choose not to target you. He was speaking as to the positioning of the stickers saying my home was protected. He didn’t even feel we should expect them to make the effort to look down, keep the stickers at eye level. :p

  108. SKL you sound really sensible. I don’t live in an area with snow, but I am know I would do exactly what you do in the circumstances, because it is pretty much unheard of where I live to worry about leaving kids in the car when you are close by. In fact plenty of people (myself included) leave/ have left their kids to sleep in the car with the windows down and the house door/window open so they can hear them when they wake up – beats having grumpy babies or toddlers. (I did, once – Bad Mother Award!- get my six week old out of her carseat and lie her on the floor of our van to grab other stuff to pass to my three year old, and then climb out of the van to greet friends, go into the house to have a coffee with them and FORGET I had a baby playing on the van floor! Ten minutes later, friend asks about baby, to which panicked mother rushes back out to van, wherein very happy baby is kicking her feet and gazing about at who-knows-what!)

    My generation were left in the garden in prams, to get fresh air and sunshine. Only time in my case that this caused a problem was when the wind was up and I got blown over the fence into the neighbours garden!

    Off the topic, I know…but really, the world is usually a safe place. …And it sounds like the parents learned a lesson, and will at least take the keys with them next time. Good luck to them!

  109. “Although people shouldn’t be stealing cars shouldn’t the owner take responsibility for the percentage difference between best care and what they choose?”

    Isn’t this exactly the heart of helicopter thinking, though? There is a 1% chance of my child being kidnapped while playing in the yard alone. There is zero chance of my child being kidnapped while playing in the yard alone if my child never plays in the yard alone. Therefore, allowing a child to play in the yard alone is clearly a poor choice.

    Since in reality there is about a .000000001% chance of my car being stolen from my driveway at 7:30 am in 15 degree weather in my middle class neighborhood during the few minutes it takes to warm up, I think I’ll continue to warm it up. I’ll also continue to let my child get into the warm car while I lock the door and return the key to the shed. I guess statistically that is a poor choice and since I will continue to make it, I’m a bad parent. Oh well.

  110. Donna, there is a much lower than 1% chance of your kid being abducted, of course🙂

    But you know, I betcha a lot of them think like this:

    My child can play in the yard and nothing can happen OR something terrible can happen. Since there are two choices, there’s a 50% chance that something terrible will happen. OMG!

  111. Uly – The true risk of having my kid abducted from the yard is probably about the same as having my car stolen from that same yard early in the morning (for criminals) in record low temperatures (when nobody is out who doesn’t have to be). Virtually none!!

  112. Yeah, it’s never occurred to me to worry about my car being stolen while I’m thawing it out in my driveway in a low-crime area, in conditions where I’m concerned about getting stuck on the way out of the cul-de-sac and going anywhere is a battle. That’s just not the atmosphere that car thieves thrive on, is it? I mean really, how EMBARRASSING would it be to be stealing a car, and get caught because you slid off the road and needed a tow?😉

  113. “I mean really, how EMBARRASSING would it be to be stealing a car, and get caught because you slid off the road and needed a tow?”

    Sadly, I’m sure it’s happened. After seeing the client selling drugs to the guy wearing a hat saying “Narcotics Task Force” and the other client who took his stolen car to the jail to visit his girlfriend, I’m not the least bit surprised by the stupidity of some criminals anymore.

  114. On the plus side, I can take those pesky CO detectors out my house now, since my husband and I, being parents, clearly repel CO. Oh but wait, we’re not home ALL the time….darn.

  115. I always take the keys out of the car, even when pumping gas. Kidnapping is rare, car theft is not.

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