3 cars stolen in Cincinnati within 12 hours, one with child inside

Posted at 3:40 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 00:35:17-05

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Police Department has put out this warning before: Don't leave your car running if you're not around.

Thieves took three cars in 12 hours Tuesday. In each case, the key was in the ignition and the engine was running. 

In one case, the driver's 7-year-old grandson was still inside. That theft and abduction happened at the One Stop Market on Glenmore Avenue in Westwood at about 11 a.m., police said.

People sometimes warm up their cars in the cold. Generally, it's illegal to leave a car running unattended, but Ohio lawmakers carved out some exceptions last year: the law doesn't apply to vehicles parked on residential property, a locked car parked anywhere, or emergency and public safety vehicles. 

Fifty to 60 percent of car thefts in Cincinnati happen because the key is left in the ignition and drivers walk away, Sgt. Eric Franz told us last year. Twice last winter, cars were stolen that had infants sitting in the backseat.

Cincinnati police have repeatedly warned people to never walk away from a running car. 

"It's an easy theft," Detective Michael Winstead previously told us. He also said the majority of these thefts happen in neighborhoods where a person might leave their car running to warm it up or cool it off in the morning, but many are also concentrated around gas stations. 

In Tuesday's abduction, the suspect is described as a white man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and camouflage jacket. The child was dropped off and reunited with his family within about 20 minutes.

The vehicle is still missing, though: It's a gray 1997 Toyota Avalon, with Ohio license plate GVV6980.

Anyone with information on this case or the identity of the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040, or submit an online tip at Callers may remain anonymous and may receive compensation for their information.