PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The mother of a 7-year-old girl says that she was only outside of her car for less than a minute when the vehicle was stolen Sunday night with her daughter asleep inside around 7 p.m.
Portland police found the child shortly after an Amber Alert was issued.
The mother told KOIN 6 News on Monday that she is thankful and relieved. She says the family spent the weekend moving and that they were returning the moving truck to the U-Haul store at SE 49th and Powell when her partner couldn’t find the keys to the drop box, so she got out of the car to help him while their daughter was sleeping in the backseat of their black Honda Civic.
After dropping the keys in the box, the couple turned around to get into the car, but it was gone. Police were notified, but all available officers were tied up on other calls. However, Sergeant Kevin Allen explained that one officer recognized that this needed to take precedent.
“An officer realized (that) this is a big deal, we need to get on this. They cleared the call and immediately went to the scene. Six minutes later they were at the scene talking to the person who called,” he said. “This was a massive effort. This was a huge response. We may have struggles with our staffing right now. We may not have as many officers as we like, but when it really counts we come together and really focus.”
Allen told KOIN 6 News that an estimated 50 officers were out searching for the child. Detectives from the Missing Persons Unit even came in from home.
“We feel so intensely a desire to help when kids go missing that this was a massive effort,” he said.
Allen said the search was difficult, partially because the car had no license plate.
“This was a pretty common car and it didn’t have a license plate,” Allen said.
A search grid and a command post were set up and the police airplane was also called up to help. Additionally, PPB took steps to issue an Amber Alert, which was sent at 10:35 p.m. The girl was found about 10 minutes later by officers searching around Laurelhurst Park, who spotted the car parked on the north side of the park. Police say the girl was asleep through the entire ordeal.
“The officers were able to reach in through one of the windows, get it unlocked, when the door opened the alarm went off. That’s what woke the little girl up,” Allen said. “She had no idea what had happened and it was the first faces, fortunately, that she saw were the officers who were there to get her home.”