Car stolen in Merriam with 2-year-old in backseat is recovered minutes later along I-35; child found safe

The Georgetown Apartments where the car theft occurred early this morning.
The Georgetown Apartments where the car theft occurred early this morning.

A two-year-old child, who was in the backseat of a car stolen from a Merriam apartment complex early this morning, was found minutes later along I-35 where the car was abandoned. The child was still in the backseat of the stolen car unharmed and was reunited with the parents.

Merriam police said they received the call about the stolen car and missing child at 3:30 a.m. today. Merriam Police Chief Mike Daniels said police immediately notified surrounding police agencies to join the search for the car and only seven minutes later a Lenexa officer spotted the stolen silver Toyota on the exit ramp of I-35 at 67th Street. The car was running with the child still in the backseat.

The incident started at the Georgetown Apartments in the 7200 block of Eby Drive, according to police. The apartments are near I-35. The mother and her boyfriend were moving into a new apartment and were in the parking lot of the apartment complex where they had pulled up driving separate vehicles. The mother left the car running with the two-year-old inside and walked over only two to three parking spaces to talk to her boyfriend who had driven a van with their household items inside. A white male in his early 20’s walked past the mother in the lot and jumped into the car and drove away.

The suspect was described as having a thin build, 5’10” with brown short hair, scruffy facial hair, wearing blue jeans and a gray hoodie. A black or dark colored Ford F-150 was seen leaving the apartments and following the stolen car. Police believe it is possible the car thief did not know the child was in the car when it was taken.

Search dogs were unable to follow a trail from the abandoned car, which may indicate the driver was picked up by the F-150. Police are asking for anyone with information to call the Merriam Police Department at 913-322-5560.

Chief Daniels said the police will not be ticketing the mother for leaving the car running unattended.