Missing 2-year-old found, alert cancelled

February 24, 2008 5:04:09 PM PST
A two-year-old girl is taken when a crook steals her family's SUV. After being the focus of an Amber Alert, she's back at home.

The scary experience all started early this morning on Edgemoor in southwest Houston.

The slightly dazed and thirsty 2-year-old looked around as if wondering what all the fuss was about, but little Aliyah Mejia had actually been the subject of an intense police search for over six hours.

"The two year old is doing fine," said Lt. Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department. "Of course we had HFD, the paramedics check her out."

It all began when a man parked his Nissan Pathfinder outside this apartment complex with his child still inside. He got out to confront his wife in an upstairs apartment unit.

That was around 5am. Sarah Cordova, who lives with the child's mother, says the father became violent.

"He broke the window," she said.

Meantime, little Aliyah remained strapped in her car seat outside. Police believe someone came along, noticed the keys still in the ignition, and stole the maroon-colored vehicle.

An Amber Alert was issued a short time later.

Family members, including the child's grandmother, sat outside for any news as police began a search. Then, around 11am, officer Bang Lee found the abandoned Pathfinder about a mile away behind this strip center.

"The windows were down," said Officer Band Le with HPD. "The driver's side and back passenger where she was at. It was half way down and she was crying."

Anxious family members, including grandma, could barely control their relief.

"It just goes to show, never leave those keys in the vehicle, running," Lt. Finner said. "Even if you have something quick to do and think you'll be right back."

The little girl wasn't hurt.

Police are still looking for the car thief who could face kidnapping charges.

Investigators also say there is a possibility the father could be charged for leaving his child in the car alone.

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