RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Authorities are looking for two men who stole a car with a sleeping two-year-old inside it late Saturday night.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said on July 2, deputies responded to a kidnapping call at 207 Sagemont Drive in Hopkins around 10:00 p.m. The victim said that two unknown men took her vehicle while her daughter was in her car seat in the back. The victim said that she and her husband had stopped to speak to a family member for a brief moment and left their 2-year-old daughter in the vehicle with it running because she was asleep.
"It wasn't like a Walmart or a gas station, kind of leave the child in the car at some random place," said Whitney Reaves. "It was at my aunt's house. I was counting maybe 12 steps away from my car."
"The male actually positioned himself in the doorway, as I understand it, so he could watch the car and make sure nothing happened," said Maj. Stan Smith. "They did leave the car running due to the heat."
The victim told investigators that she noticed the vehicle headlights come on and as she and the family ran to the front door, two men both pointed handguns at them and yelled said not to come further. The men then backed the vehicle out of the driveway and sped away. "I thought maybe they were going to take her life, because they probably just wanted a car or some money or whatever," said Reaves.
Approximately two hours later, at 11:50 p.m., a patrol deputy located the stolen vehicle and found the 2-year-old baby girl unharmed at Hopkins Elementary School on Cabin Creek Road.
EMS was called to the scene as a precaution and the child was released at the scene to the mother. "I felt blessed," said Reaves. "I felt like a miracle just happened."
Lott said that one suspect is described as a black male in his late teens to early 20's, with dark skin, a thin build, standing approximately 5'9" - 5'-10", and was last seen wearing a red baseball cap and dark clothing. The other suspect is described as a black male, in his late teens to early twenties, with a slender build, standing approximately 6 feet tall, weighing around 165 pounds, and last seen wearing all dark clothing.
"No matter how brief it may be," said Lott, "it is never a good idea to leave your vehicle running especially when children are inside – always protect yourself and your family from crimes of opportunity."
If you have information about the incident or the identity of the suspects, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or text "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637). You can remain anonymous and your tip could earn you a cash reward of up to $1000.