WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A car with a child in the back seat was stolen on Long Island and it was all caught on camera.
Police said the thief dropped off the 8-year-old girl in a parking lot a short time later, before taking off.READ MORE: NJ TRANSIT Bus, Car Crash In Irvington Takes Out Utility Poles
A customer brought the girl into West Islip Hot Bagels early Friday morning after the child was seen wandering around the lot.
“We were just trying to talk with her. We’re like, ‘Oh, are you okay?’ But the girl was not speaking to us at all. She was just kind of looking around. She was kind of confused, didn’t know what was going on,” employee Alexis Rutha told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas on Monday.
Customers and employees said they didn’t recognize the child. They didn’t know who her parents were. She wasn’t speaking and didn’t want any food or a drink.
“We didn’t know what was going on and, you know, being a parent myself you have fears that maybe that someone just dropped her off here,” West Islip Hot Bagels owner Billy Roth said.
Surveillance video shows a man abandon what police say was a stolen red van at a 7-Eleven on Bay Shore Road just minutes earlier. The suspect enters a white Acura parked a few spots away and takes off. Unbeknownst to the thief, the 8-year-old is in the back seat.
Witnesses said when her father came out of the store, he was frantic.READ MORE: Judge Lifts Temporary Pause On Vaccine Mandate For NYC Teachers And Other City Workers, Who Now Must Be Vaccinated By Monday
“He was just running around with his phone,” a customer said.
After driving nearly three miles, the suspect dropped the girl off in the parking lot of the bagel store. Employees then called police.
“The minute the cop came in she went right with the cop, had no hesitation,” Rutha said.
But before leaving, the 8-year-old pushed in the chair she was sitting in, a sweet gesture to the kind strangers who kept her safe.
Police said the girl was not harmed and was quickly reunited her with her father.
“Glad she’s with her parents. Hopefully they catch who did it,” Roth said.
Police said they suspect the man was heading to the Bronx with the stolen car. He’s still on the run.MORE NEWS: Mattress Giveaway In Queens Highlights Depth Of Need That Remains 3 Weeks After Ida
Suffolk County CrimeStoppers are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. You can submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com.