PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A carjacking in New Jersey set off a frantic search on Friday, after the suspect took off with three kids in the backseat.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, police tracked the suspect from Paterson to Hawthorne, and a stranger reunited the kids with their mother.
Surveillance video from inside an auto body shop off Goffle Road in Hawthorne shows a little girl walk in holding a woman’s hand asking to use the bathroom. The mystery woman is being hailed a hero after she followed a stolen car containing the young one and her two siblings.
“We are very grateful a concerned citizen did follow the vehicle and tell us where the vehicle and children ended up,” Captain Richard Reyes, Paterson Police said.
Police said the children’s mother stopped and got out of her car to use an outdoor ATM on Broadway in Paterson around 8 a.m. when 43-year-old Frank Saggese of East Hanover car jacked her.
“He ended up driving off, dragging her,” Reyes said.
Witnesses say the thief dumped the 3 young children out of the car in a small parking lot off North 6th Street and Goffle Road near an auto body shop.
“I saw family came by after, kids by themselves, don’t know what’s going on, young, scared, nervous,” Anand Shah said.
From there the suspect drove down the street to a 7-Eleven, the scene of the next crime where he switched cars.
“I grab my coffee, pay, go outside, and my car wasn’t there no more,” Miguel Lora said.
Lora had left his car running. He immediately watched surveillance video inside to see what happened.
“On the video you can see the moment I got there, behind me another white care parked next to me, got into my car, and left,” he said.
Luckily, Lora’s car was equipped with Lojack leading police to a parking lot at the Garden State Plaza mall off of Route 4.
The children were unharmed, and thanks to a good Samaritan — found quickly.
The mother was reunited with her children at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson where she was treated for minor injuries.