The incident happened around 7:30pm at a convenience store in the 2900 block of Barker Cypress Road near Morton Road. Authorities say the vehicle was stolen while the mother ran quickly inside the store and left her son in her running car.
"It was the worst experience I've ever experienced in my life," the boy's mother, Lucresa Dobbins, told Eyewitness News. "I thought my life was over."
Dobbins said she decided to just run into the store by herself when she saw no one standing in line at the cash register. While inside, she says she kept her eyes on her son, Jermaine.
"And next thing you know, I see this man, but I'm thinking he's getting in the car with the people next to my car -- because they're getting in their car. Then I see him fiddling with my door, and I'm like, 'What is he doing?' So I just immediately run to my car, because by then, he just hopped into my car and was driving off," Dobbins said. "He was trying to drive off and I'm beating on my car and the man in the store is beating on the car and we're trying to get him out and he just backs up, like, 'Hey this is my car and I'm leaving in it tonight.' That's how he treated it."
Harris County Sheriff's Office Sgt. S. Hayes said a witness tried to follow the car for a while but lost it on Interstate 10. The suspect then dropped off the boy at Select Specialty Hospital in the Heights about an hour later, and he was reunited with Dobbins there.
"Everybody's happy now," Hayes said. "The child is safe. Now we just need to locate the car and the suspect."
Authorities describe the stolen car as a black Chevy Impala with the Texas license plate number DSH 128. The suspect was described only as a Hispanic male, but detectives say they have surveillance video of the suspect stealing the car from the convenience store and dropping the boy off at the hospital.
A woman who identified herself as Dobbins' mom said she just thanks God her grandchild was found unharmed.
"I just feel sorry for anyone that's had to go through this. I never thought I would, but praise God. God is good," she said.
And Sgt. Hayes said there's a lesson to be learned from Monday night's incident.
"The lesson to this story is never leave your child in a running vehicle for no reason. You're better off just turning the car off, taking the child with you, " Hayes said. "That way you have peace of mind, you don't have these things to worry about."