Vehicle thief lectures mom on parenting skills and car safety

Picture this – first your car is stolen, with your child in the back seat, and then the thief does a U-turn, returns your child, and threatens to report you for negligent parenting and car safety. Sounds too crazy to be true? Well, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction!

This bizarre incident unfolded last month in Oregon, United States, when a mother left her car running with her 4-year-old child buckled up in the back seat, while she ran into the grocery store. I know this is usually unheard of in South Africa, but in smaller towns in the United States, where vehicle crime is not as rampant, leaving your young child in a car alone is not totally uncommon.

An unidentified thief saw the woman leaving her car idling and unlocked, so he hopped in the car and drove off with his steal of the day. He didn’t get too far before realising there was a child in the backseat, and thankfully he immediately turned around to return the child to the mother. When the thief found the mother, he handed over her child, and proceeded to lecture her on leaving her child unattended in a running car and threatened to report her to the police. All this before he hopped in her car and drove away.

Thank goodness this was a parenting expert thief! The story could have had a much different ending, and it is a reminder to take extra precautions when travelling with children in cars.

We’ve rounded up a few important car safety reminders for you here:

  • Always use the correct car seat for your child’s weight and size
  • No matter how rushed you are, don’t be tempted to leave your child alone in the car when you run into the shop, especially with South Africa’s warmer temperatures. A car can get 19 degrees hotter in just 10 minutes, even if you leave a window open
  • Children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body
  • Every year we hear horrific stories of parents who forget their children in a parked car. Avoid this by creating reminders for yourself, like putting your phone, wallet or laptop in the back when travelling with our child
  • If you see a child alone in the car, immediately call emergency services
  • Before you leave home, take a few seconds to walk around your parked car to check for children who might be playing near the vehicle
  • Help little children get in and out of the car. Hold their hand while they walk around parked cars or moving vehicles
  • Make sure to lock your vehicle, including the doors and the boot, when you’re not using it
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