TUALATIN, Ore. — A suspect stole a minivan in Tualatin Wednesday morning with the owner's 9-month-old infant child still inside, according to a press release from the Tualatin Police Department.
The owner of the van had parked in the lot of Oregon Dog Rescue in Tualatin and left the car running while he went inside to drop off his dog. The suspect, identified by police as 24-year-old Marcus Esa Paul of Tualatin, then got into the van and drove away.
The owner called the police and told them that the van had been stolen and the child was still inside. The suspect dropped the infant off on the side of a road in Oregon City a short time later, police said, and a passerby found the child and turned it over to the police. The child was not injured.
Police were able to locate the van with the help of the owner by tracking the owner's cell phone, which had also been left inside.
The van and the suspect were found at the intersection of Northeast 95th Avenue and Northeast Prescott Street in Portland, and after a brief chase on foot the suspect was arrested at the nearby Parkrose Transit Center, police said.
Paul was booked in Washington County jail and has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and endangering the welfare of a minor, police said.
Three similar thefts have happened in the Portland metro area in the past six months — incidents in which a car theft became an apparently inadvertent kidnapping because a child was in the stolen vehicle.
OTHER STORIES: Police identify suspect who stole car with child inside
In February, a suspect allegedly jumped into a running car with a 3-year-old child in the back seat in Northeast Portland and drove away. The boy's mother called police and his father followed the suspect and eventually crashed his own car into the stolen car near where Northeast 21st Avenue crosses Interstate 84.
The suspect, later identified by police as 40-year-old Justin Hill, reportedly got out and ran away. When the father told people passing by what happened, they chased the suspect down on foot and held him down until police arrived. The child was not hurt.
In March, a suspect — later identified by police as 26-year-old Colton Ian Suckow — was taken into custody after stealing a minivan with a 6-year-old girl inside from the parking lot of Providence Medical Center in Northeast Portland.
The girl's parents told police they drove to the hospital because one of them was feeling sick, and when the driver walked around to the passenger side to help his wife into a wheelchair, the suspect jumped in and drove away. Police later found the van in Southeast Portland. The girl was still inside and was unharmed.
In April, a suspect allegedly stole a woman's SUV with her 3-year-old daughter still in the back seat. The mother told police she had parked in her babysitter's driveway in east Vancouver and left her daughter in the car seat while she dropped off her other kids, but came back outside to find the car gone.
The suspect dropped the child off, still in the car seat, outside the front door of a nearby clinic a short time later before driving off again, and the mother and daughter were reunited.