New Jersey

Family Panics After Repo Man Takes Van Away — With 1-Year-Old Child Inside

In the minutes it took a father to go back into his apartment to get his child, a repo man towed the vehicle away, with his 1-year-old daughter inside

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A New Jersey family is thankful their infant daughter is uninjured after their van was towed away — with her stuck inside.

Noel Saldana was at work when her husband called to say their 2011 Acura minivan had been stolen from right in front of their East Orange apartment building, with their 1-year-old daughter Hannah in the back seat. He said he put the child in the car and then quickly went back to their second-floor apartment to get the child's bottle.

In those few minutes, the car vanished, and Saldana's husband called police. As her husband panicked, Saldana thought to call the bank that held the title to the vehicle.

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"I just got back to working, I got a little behind on my payments unfortunately," Saldana said. "I was actually going to call them today and cash my check today, to make a payment ... but this happened."

The repo man beat her to it however, hitching up the vehicle and hauling it away in a matter of minutes. Saldana called it all a "huge mistake," and that her husband was with the kids the whole time, except for just those few crucial minutes.

"Hindsight is 20/20, we know now that is not the correct thing to do, as parents or anybody who's caring for children obviously," Saldana said.

The mother made one stop on her way home — to say a prayer. That's when a police officer called her to say that her daughter was at the hospital.

Little Hannah spent about 45 minutes alone in the back seat of the car in the impound lot before police were able to track it down. She was brought to the hospital where she was found to be uninjured, and was reunited with her mother.

While it wasn't clear why the operators at Kruse Towing didn't look in the back seat before taking the vehicle away, Saldana said she did not blame them for the ordeal.

"It would be in their best interest to check going forward because this happened. It's not their fault but they do need to check," said Saldana. "It happened, unfortunately. I'm not excusing it, I'm owning it."

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