SALT LAKE CITY — A car left warming up in a parking lot was stolen Wednesday morning while a 7-year-old boy was still inside.
The vehicle was recovered about 50 minutes later and the boy, who apparently slept through the entire ordeal, was found still sleeping in the back and uninjured, said Salt Lake police detective Richard Chipping.
The incident began just before 5 a.m. in the parking lot of an apartment complex near 800 W. Elm Tree Place (900 North). A father had just taken his sleeping 7-year-old son out to his car and turned it on to warm up the vehicle, Chipping said.
The father then went back inside his apartment to get his 5-year-old child. But when he came back out, the car was gone. Chipping said all available officers started conducting a grid search of the area, believing that once the car thief realized a child was inside, the car would likely be abandoned.
"Our officers are pretty familiar with usual dump locations for stolen vehicles," he said.
Chipping said officers were also in the process of requesting an Amber Alert when the vehicle and child were found.
The vehicle was found about 5:50 a.m. in the back parking lot of another apartment complex about a block and a half away, near 715 N. Grant (750 West).
No arrests were made. Chipping said investigators did a forensics sweep of the vehicle to collect DNA evidence.
Cars stolen while warming up are the most preventable kinds of thefts, he said. Yet Salt Lake police have experienced a rash of stolen cars in recent weeks.
From Dec. 4 to Jan. 3, 202 vehicles were reported stolen in Salt Lake City, Chipping said. Fifty-nine of those — or about 29 percent of those vehicles — were left running and unattended when they were taken.