Things could have been much worse over the weekend when a man stole an SUV with two children in the backseat, the Clayton police chief said.
A 22-year-old man is accused of stealing a Chevrolet Tahoe from the Han-Dee Hugo’s convenience store on Pritchard Road shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. He didn’t realize the children, ages 3 and 7, were in the SUV, police said.
Moments later, according to police, the man stopped the vehicle and gave the children an address where they could be safely found.
“We’re very fortunate that it turned out as it did,” Police Chief Blair Myhand said. “We’re thankful it wasn’t a more serious criminal who took the Tahoe.”
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Myhand said parents should always take their children with them when they leave a vehicle unattended.
“I understand why parents might leave their children in the car,” he said. “At least locking the car would have prevented this from happening.”
The children’s mother in this case left the SUV running near the gas pumps around 11:15 p.m., police said.
Police say Brian Keith Allen Jr. of Clayton got into the vehicle and drove away. When he realized the children were there, according to police, he stopped the vehicle and asked them if they could call someone they knew.
They called their uncle, who called 911. The children’s father was alerted, and he picked up the children who were unharmed, Myland said.
Allen was taken into police custody about a quarter-mile from the gas station after leaving the SUV, police said.
Allen was charged with stealing a car and two counts of second-degree kidnapping. He was being held at the Johnston County jail on a $150,000 secured bond.