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Woman stole van, but returned after finding baby in back, police say

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4 2013 3:11 p.m. MST

A woman who police say stole a van apparently had a change of heart after discovering a small child was still in the vehicle.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman who police say stole a van apparently had a change of heart after discovering that a small child was still in the vehicle.

Just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jose Rubao said he was taking his 2-year-old son, Emanuel, to daycare, when he ran back inside his business near 800 South and 800 West to grab his boy's blanket. He said he was away from his vehicle, which he left running to keep it warm, only seconds.

But when he came back, the van and Emanuel were gone.

"I was thinking I would not see my baby anymore. I was so scared," he said.

According to a Salt Lake County Jail report: "Her intent was to take the vehicle and take it to her dad's house."

But as she was driving off, the woman realized there was a child in the back seat. Rubao said his son was awake during the incident.

As Rubao was scrambling to try and find his van and call 911, the woman returned to the scene.

"I heard something about she (said) she saw the baby and she felt bad. That's what I heard she (said)," he said.

As someone took Emanuel inside Rubao's cab company, a waiting cab customer held onto the woman until police arrived about two minutes later.

Juana Marie Valdez, 27, was arrested for investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle.

The alleged theft happened on the same day that a petition for child custody was filed against Valdez, according to 3rd District Court records, which also show that she has a history of drug and other convictions.

Contributing: Sandra Yi

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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