HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A nanny is accused of leaving a toddler alone in a hot minivan while she went on an illegal shopping spree inside a Long Island store.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville.

Christine Nunes, 37, of Lynbrook left the 3-year-old girl she was caring for in the backseat of a locked 2006 Dodge Caravan while she went inside a Target store, police said.

Someone saw the child in the vehicle and called police, authorities said.

Detectives said the girl was in the minivan for about 35 minutes with the windows rolled up and was sweating and visibly hot when officers arrived, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

“The officers quickly removed the child from the car,” Nassau County Police Insp. Kenneth Lack said. “The car was well over 100 degrees, according to officers at the scene.”

The child was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for dehydration before being released to her father, police said.

Nunes, who worked for a Plainview family, was arrested after she returned to the minivan with items she had shoplifted from Target, police said. The alleged shoplifting spree was caught on camera, police said.

Defense attorney David Ledgin said his client is a “very troubled woman” with a history of mental health issues.

“She’s alleged to have taken $45 worth of merchandise at a time when she had approximately $1,000 on her, that should tell you something,” Ledgin told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “She wouldn’t hurt a fly knowingly, I think she’s just in a very bad place mentally.”

“It’s a very tragic case, thank God it wasn’t worse,” Ledgin added. “I have to try to get her out and into the hands of qualified professionals.”

Nunes, who has four young children of her own, is charged with petty larceny and reckless endangerment. She has five prior arrests, mostly for larceny-type offenses, Lack said.

She was arraigned before Nassau District Court Judge Tricia Ferrell, who set bail at $50,000 cash or bond, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported. A stay away order was issued on behalf of the victim.

Nunes’ husband also attended the court appearance in a show of support, calling her a great mother to their children, McLogan reported.

Shoppers at the Broadway Mall told McLogan the incident, especially because Nunes has prior arrests, highlights the need for background checks when hiring nannies and baby sitters.

“I think absolutely horrible. I keep reading about all this stuff online and on the news, it’s just, it makes me sick,” said Hicksville parent Nicole Hilton.

“It’s unconscionable. I can’t believe that anybody would do that to a child. And especially to go into a store to shoplift, it’s horrible. You got to be really careful who you trust your children with,” said Bethpage parent Vanessa Marcotrigiano.

Nunes has also been fighting possible deportation to Guyana, sources told Rivera.

She is due back in court on June 27.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE