California car thief returns to crime scene with stolen vehicle after noticing toddler in back seat: cops

A car hijacker in Santa Rosa, Calif., changed his mind on Monday about the crime and returned the stolen car within 10 minutes after realizing it had a toddler in the back seat, police said.

Police said the thief stole the 2008 Mercedes Benz after its owner went into the his house for a few minutes to get belongings, leaving the vehicle running and his 1-year-old boy strapped to the back seat, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

After seeing that his child and the car were gone by the time he came back, the father began driving around the neighborhood in another car desperately trying to find the car.

He also called the police, prompting the dispatch of several officers and a police helicopter to find the suspect.

But the hunt for the criminal abruptly ended after the thief returned to the crime scene 10 minutes later, according to Santa Rosa police Sgt. Jeneane Kucker.

Kucker said the little boy in the back seat was unharmed and the suspect “surrendered to officers on scene without incident.”

According to the publication, the suspect is 28-year-old Stephan Salazar, who already has a criminal record. He’s booked into Sonoma County Jail on charges of kidnapping, child endangerment and vehicle theft.