Witness helps track down 3-year-old girl in stolen car in Providence

PROVIDENCE — A 3-year-old sat inside a car parked outside Fernandez Liquors on Tuesday night while her mother was inside.

Then, something grabbed the attention of a man watching the situation on the street.

The witness saw a man in a black coat arrive on the scene, according to an account from Providence police.

The witness also saw the man make a move on the driver's door of the parked Honda Accord, police say.

The observer, who was in his own vehicle parked on Broad Street, alerted Providence police to the situation and began following the Accord.

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These were the opening moments of intense drama Tuesday evening that ended in the reunification of a little girl and her mother and the arrest of the suspected car thief, according to Providence police Detective Maj. David Lapatin.


The witness kept his eyes on the Accord as it headed down Broad Street, toward Elmwood Avenue and through local streets on a path that led to the front of the Omni Hotel on West Exchange Street.

There, police found the child and learned from the witness that the man in the long coat had fled into the hotel.

From surveillance, they determined he had left the building and was fleeing on foot.

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Police obtained a surveillance photo of the suspected car thief from mall security at nearby Providence Place.

Other officers working on the shift received the same photo.

A sergeant near the junction of Charles Street and Silver Spring Street then saw someone with similar characteristics boarding a RIPTA bus.

The man held a Jetson Hoverboard with a JetKart attachment.

He was the lone passenger on the bus, which traveled to a stop near Charles Street and Amboy, Lapatin said.

He left the bus, made eye contact with officers and tried to run away, say police. During the run, they say, he tossed the black coat.

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Two officers chased him down and captured him on Charles Street near Luke Street, says the report.

Police then took him back to Fernandez Liquors at 342 Broad St.

There, the man who had followed the stolen car identified him as the person who had taken the car with the child riding inside, according to police, who said the suspect has been charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

The child's mother told investigators she had left the child in the car with the engine running, say police.

She told them that both her car and her daughter were gone when she came out of the store.

Police confirmed that the Department of Children, Youth and Families was notified of the circumstances.

Providence Fire Rescue evaluated the child and she was reunited with her mother.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Witness in Providence RI helps police find child in stolen car