Amarillo PD reminds drivers to take keys out of vehicles after car stolen with kids inside

APD reminds drivers to take keys out of vehicles after car was stolen with kids inside (Photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7).

A car was stolen from a driveway with two kids inside Tuesday morning in north Amarillo. The kids were just one and three years old.

The Amarillo Police Department (APD) says a 21-year-old woman left her vehicle running in her driveway while she went inside the home for what she says was just seconds.

When she came back outside, both the vehicle and children were gone.

ABC 7 spoke with the husband who got a call while at work that his car along with two young family members were taken.

This man, Steven Rueda, says it is a call he never wants to get again. The kids and vehicle were found safely, but APD says it could have ended badly.

"I feel uneasy knowing that I could go to work one day and then come home and my family won't be there," said Rueda. "It's hard to think that it's safe living somewhere where you think it's safe and you think you know the neighborhood and it makes you question every day... am I going to see my family when I come home?"

APD says it could happen anywhere and Rueda says he hopes other parents learn from what happened to his family.

"She forgot a letter, so she went inside to grab a letter real quick, ran inside, took about 30 seconds, ran out and her car was missing," Rueda said.

APD wants to remind drivers to never leave their keys in their car, especially with it running. In 2016 there were a total of 914 cars stolen just in Amarillo.

"It takes a lot less time to get into a car and drive away than it takes a person to go through the line at a convenience store or run in and grab a piece of mail," said Sgt. Brent Barbee.

Most criminals are going to do a quick scan of cars and it is a lot harder to steal when there are no keys in sight. If they come across a car that is clearly running, it just takes a few seconds to step inside and drive away.

"For the most part it's cars left running while people are some distance away," said Sgt. Barbee. "They've either gone into a store, gone into their home, gone into somewhere and left it out there running."

Sgt. Barbee says it seems simple to remember to take your keys out of your car, but it happens often. He says when the weather cools down, some drivers start cars ahead of time to heat them up.

"It's one of those crimes that can be prevented so easily," Sgt. Barbee said. "It's a tiny bit of a hassle to take your keys, but it's a great big hassle is you lose your car."

And Rueda says he is lucky to have his family and his car home safely.

"Be aware of your surroundings and be very careful in what you do," said Rueda. "Every little step counts to what could happen, in such little time. It only took 30 seconds for this to happen."

APD is asking anyone with information on who stole the car to call or go online to file a report.

It happened in the 1400 block of Roosevelt and the vehicle was a white Toyota Sequoia. Sgt. Barbee says that although the car and kids were left behind, they still want to find the person who did it.

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