HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Deputies have turned their attention to locating a man who stole an SUV with a 1-year-old child inside after locating the toddler shortly after an Amber Alert was issued Tuesday.
Tinnley Sage West was located inside her parents’ stolen Volkswagen SUV at the St. Andrews Methodist Church at Bryan Road and Bloomingdale Avenue three miles from where she was kidnapped in Valrico.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said the vehicle was off and a little warm, but the baby was unharmed.
The sheriff said the man seen in surveillance footage from a homeowner’s front porch was walking around the neighborhood asking people for a ride.
Chronister believes that same person eventually stole the SUV that was parked in a driveway while Tinnley’s mom was helping her mother-in-law unload groceries. Chronister said Tinnley was asleep in the back seat.
“Less than a minute. That’s all it takes, is less than a minute,” Chronister said. “Because she didn’t want to wake up the baby to remove her from the car, someone took advantage and jumped in this car, and stole it with the baby inside.”
Chronister said the focus of the sheriff’s office has turned to locating the individual who stole the vehicle and kidnapped the toddler.
“It was really scary, but she’s okay. She’s probably hungry and thirsty,” Tinnley’s mother Chelsea told reporters after being reunited with her baby. “Just grateful. Grateful and happy.”
When asked what they would say to the individual who stole their car, Tinnley’s father responded: “Don’t let me find you.”
Hillsborough County deputies are still at St. Andrews Methodist Church where baby Tinnley was located and our investigating the scene and the now abandoned stolen car.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says this is an reminder for all parents to never leave your car running and unlocked. Not even for a minute.
“I couldn’t even imagine if that would have happened to me, if I would’ve been a victim of a crime like this… all it takes is less than a minute for someone to steal your car,” Chronister said.