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Group warns of high number of children left in stolen cars

By Chris Bryant
Group warns of high number of children left in stolen cars

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With the end of school and the summer months right around the corner, more people will be on the road, running errands with their children in the car.

The Group Kids and Cars reports a drastic increase from 2020 to 2022 in the number of cars stolen with children inside: 80 in 2020, 121 in 2021, and 265 cases in 2022.

“Last year, we documented hundreds of children who were taken in vehicles, so this is happening a lot more often than most people would like to believe. We need parents to understand these are crimes of opportunity, and even if you feel safe in your neighborhood, at the gas station, that these things happen even in the safest of neighborhoods,” Amber Rollins, Director of Kids and Cars Safety.

From 2000 to 2021, 66 stolen car cases with a child inside were reported in Missouri, eight of which were in Greene County.

“I totally understand. I am a parent myself. I have buckled and unbuckled that five-point harness a million times. It is annoying, and it takes time, but the worst thing in the world to happen is for somebody to take your child, and you have no idea what is going to happen to them,” says Rollins.

While many think of the family car as an extension of their homes, “You wouldn’t leave your children at home alone when they are young, you shouldn’t leave them in a vehicle alone when they are young,” says Deputy Derek James with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

Rollins says to take preventative steps to prevent this from happening: Take your child with you on errands, and never leave them alone inside a vehicle.

“The inside of a vehicle is an unsafe environment. Children find something in the car, and they choke. They find a lighter. They start a car fire. They find a gun under the seat, and that doesn’t end well. All of these things happen in just a matter of just a few minutes,” says Rollins.

And there is another concern about leaving your child in the car.

“Even if you think you are going into the store just a second, especially with the warmer months coming around, a kid in a car seat and is not able to get out of a car themselves, you should always take them out of the vehicle cause a vehicle can warm up very rapidly,” says Deputy James.

Kids and Cars Safety says in 2023, 29 children died when left in a hot car. In 2024, one child has died inside a hot car in South Carolina.

For more information on how to protect your child while in a vehicle, visit Kids and Cars Safety by clicking here.

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