In an effort to pose as a new mom, Grisel Ramirez, 48, allegedly attempted to abduct the baby from Garden Grove Medical Center on Monday, Lt. Jeff Nightengale told The Orange County Register.
"The due date came and went and she needed to produce a baby girl in order to be creditable," Nightengale told the newspaper.
The husband had no knowledge of the attempted kidnapping and was surprised to learn she was going to steal a child to fulfill a baby promise, Nightengale said.
Ramirez also may have been lurking around Western Medical Center-Anaheim on July 26, Nightengale said.
A woman approached several expectant moms and asked their due dates until someone became suspicious and alerted hospital staff, who alerted police, Nightengale said.
Garden Grove Medical Center Director Sofia Abrina told reporters Tuesday that Ramirez presented herself as a visitor who wanted to visit a patient when she entered the hospital Monday.
Abrina said when a sensor attached to a bracelet around the baby's ankle set off alarms, everyone in the ward began searching and running head counts on patients until Ramirez was apprehended.
The baby wasn't harmed and was returned to the care of her mother.
Authorities have not yet filed any charges against Ramirez.
Ramirez, a waitress, is being held without bail and is due for arraignment Wednesday.