Woman steals van, returns vehicle to owner after finding 3-year-old child inside

SALT LAKE CITY – A woman allegedly stole a van in Salt Lake City Sunday, but the suspect returned the van after she realized there was a child inside.

Police said the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. in the area near 530 S. Concord St. when Isabella Ortega left her van running with her 3-year-old daughter, Maya, inside and then went to make sure her house was locked; while Ortega was away from the van another woman jumped inside and drove off.

“I turn around and my car is running and I say, ‘my baby, my baby is in there,'” Ortega said.

Officials with the Salt Lake City Police Department said the suspect wasn’t aware of the child until she had driven a few miles west.

“Our suspect felt remorse, turned around, came back to the home where she stole the van, got out knocked on the front door and asked if she could wait inside for police, basically turning herself in,” said Lt. Scott White.

The child was not injured.

The suspect has been identified by authorities as 22-year-old Idaly Proano. She now faces charges for stealing property and possession of drugs, and police said the woman has been arrested for drug-related crimes in the past.

Ortega said it’s not the first time she’s seen the woman in her neighborhood.

“I say I think I know her because I saw her face, I know her, I don’t know where,” Ortega said.

As for Maya, she seemed unfazed by the entire ordeal. Just another day in the life of a 3-year-old.

“I asked her, ‘were you scared when she took you?’ and she said ‘no,'” Ortega said. “She has a book and maybe she played with that and doesn’t know who was driving.”

Police are thankful the suspect had enough sense to return the child.

“You hate to say you thank the thief, but in this case you thank the thief for not harming the child,” White said.

Police officials said the incident is a reminder that it is never a good idea to leave a child in a car by themselves, even in your own neighborhood.

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