1-year-old found safe after thieves steal ‘unattended’ car left running

Police arrested a suspect who allegedly stole a car with a 1-year-old in the back seat Monday. The Atlanta Police Department's Air Phoenix unit tracked the suspect's heat signature, and officers found him hiding in a trash dumpster. (Credit: Atlanta Police Department)

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Police arrested a suspect who allegedly stole a car with a 1-year-old in the back seat Monday. The Atlanta Police Department's Air Phoenix unit tracked the suspect's heat signature, and officers found him hiding in a trash dumpster. (Credit: Atlanta Police Department)

Police recovered a 1-year-old who was kidnapped Monday night by two car thieves near downtown Atlanta, authorities said.

The baby was in the back seat of a Ford Focus in the 400 block of West Peachtree Street, according to police. A woman told officers she left her car running and unattended for a short time. While she was away, two men stole it with the child inside.

The suspects removed the toddler from the vehicle a short distance away, dropping off the child in the lobby of a nearby business. The toddler did not appear to suffer any injuries, police said.

After the stolen car was spotted near Lakewood Heights, police began searching and located a vehicle matching the description near University Avenue and Pryor Road. When officers requested backup, the police department’s Phoenix Air unit began an aerial search for the car.

The department released footage from the air unit Tuesday.

The alleged car thieves tried to escape but ran into a stop sign, according to police. That’s when both jumped out and ran away.

The driver ran into the Station at Richmond Hill apartment complex in the 1700 block of Richmond Circle, while the passenger ran toward Jonesboro Road, according to police.

The Air Phoenix unit used heat-sensing detectors to track the driver, who hid beneath piles of trash in a large dumpster at the dead end of Richmond Circle. Officers surrounded the dumpster and pulled the suspect out and took him into custody without incident.

He was identified as 17-year-old Terrance Patterson. Police charged the teen with kidnapping, cruelty to children, theft by taking and obstruction.

The passenger managed to elude officers Monday.

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