VAN NUYS (CBSLA) – Police have released the photo of carjacking suspect who Tuesday drove off in a vehicle that had an 11-month old inside.
Maria Elizabeth De La Torre told police she would turn himself in at 5 p.m. after delivering a profanity-laced confession, but police are on the search for the known gang member after she failed to do so, the LAPD said.
Thankfully, the baby boy in the car was returned to his mother safely Tuesday morning.
Officers had responded around 10 a.m. to the 15400 block of Gault Street in Van Nuys following a report of a carjacking involving a white 2001 Infiniti G-20, according to the LAPD.
The car was left running unattended because the mother was picking up her other child who was being babysat by a caretaker.
Paula, the mother, told CBS2 News she left the car unattended with baby Leo inside for about 7 minutes. She said she was maybe 10 feet away from the vehicle when the suspect took it.
“I was just praying and hoping for the best, and having faith that God would find him,” Paula said.
Less than two hours after the carjacking, her prayers were answered.
A plumber saw the unattended baby in a car less than 2 miles away.
“We were at work and saw a baby in the car, so it didn’t look right,” the plumber told CBS2. He called 9-1-1. “I said, ‘I wanna grab the baby.’ The dispatcher told me, ‘Wait, wait. Let me check the license plate before you grab the baby,’ so she checked the license plate, she said, ‘Oh my God! Don’t go near the car.'”
LAPD and firefighters showed up less than a minute later.
“I wanted to hug the baby,” the plumber said chuckling. He said everybody is supposed to alert the authorities if they see a baby in a car.
Little Leo was taken to the hospital and released shortly thereafter.
The suspect, De La Torre, is said to have hitched a ride to her apartment immediately thereafter with a person who later contacted police after becoming suspicious.
CBS2 reporter Jeff Nguyen knocked at De La Torre’s apartment late Tuesday, but no one answered.
De La Torre, who is currently on probation, has a long rap sheet that includes domestic violence, robbery, drug possession, identity theft and grand theft auto, LAPD Lt. Jim Gavin told CBS2.
As for Paula, she said this was a learning experience for her, and she warned other parents to always take their children with them, even if they’re thinking of leaving them unattended for a moment. The mother said she has no idea who the woman was.