El Cajon police officer holds the child recovered from stolen vehicle. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A vehicle with a child inside was stolen Monday while the toddler’s mother was unloading groceries, according to police, who said the thief quickly abandoned the car and the youngster was found unharmed.

El Cajon Police Department Lt. Walt Miller said the woman had parked her car in an alley at 300 W. Madison Ave. near her apartment complex and left the engine running and the 3-year-old child strapped inside while she unloaded groceries.

As she was carrying bags into the apartment, she saw a man driving away in her vehicle about 11 a.m. and immediately called 911, according to Miller.

As officers from the El Cajon Police Department and a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department helicopter crew were searching the area for the vehicle and child, an employee of a business in the 300 block of Front Street called to report spotting the abandoned vehicle, the lieutenant said.

Officers and deputies continued to search the area for more than two hours, but were not able to locate the suspect, who was described as a white or possibly light-skinned Black man in his 30s. He was last seen by a witness running west toward nearby Interstate 8.

Anyone with information about his identity or whereabouts was urged to call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3311 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

— City News Service

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