A toddler and a child were reunited with their mother and a suspect was taken into custody after a car theft led to a wild chase in Northeast Philadelphia Wednesday night.
The ordeal began around 9:45 p.m. when a woman pulled up on the 1000 block of Van Kirk Street to quickly visit a friend, Philadelphia police said. The 28-year-old woman told police she left her white Toyota Camry running with the keys still inside while her 1-year-old child and 6-year-old child were in the backseat.
The woman said she only meant to speak to her friend for a few seconds but it was enough time for an unidentified man to go into her car and drive off with her children still inside.
The woman immediately called police and officers on the ground and in the air searched for the stolen vehicle.
"We made this job a priority and notified all units in the area," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.
Officers spotted the vehicle on the 1500 block of Sellers Street, about a mile away from where it was stolen. A police aviation unit began to follow it as it sped off.
"We made sure ground units didn't chase it because we didn't want the vehicle to get involved in an auto accident running from police," Small said.
The aviation unit pursued the vehicle for about 2 miles. The chase finally ended when the stolen car struck a curb at the intersection of Castor and Wyoming avenues. Officers on the ground were notified and they captured the suspect.
As they placed the suspect in custody, they realized the children were not inside the car. The driver told police he dropped the children off along the 4700 block of Darrah Street, according to Small.
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"It appears the male took this car as a crime of opportunity because the car was sitting there with the engine running," Small said. "Probably very surprised that there were two children in the backseat because the vehicle has heavy tint. But, that's still an abduction."
Around the same time the suspect was captured, police received another report of two children who were found along the 4700 block of Darrah Street. The two children were found safe and reunited with their mother.
The suspect, who police say appeared to be impaired, was not injured in the incident. Police have not yet revealed the specific charges he'll face.
The mother and children were taken to the Special Victims Unit.
"A happy ending," Small said. "Great job done by Philadelphia Police."
The family was thankful the boys weren't hurt.
“The only thing we want to say is thanks to the police for their work and to the two women who found my nephews," the boys' aunt told NBC10.