A father's stop at his wife's work turned into a harrowing experience Sunday, when authorities say a teen carjacked the vehicle with three kids and puppy inside.
The gray 2005 Dodge Magnum was reported stolen around 5:30 p.m. from 47th Street and Market Street in the Chollas View area.
A 7 year-old girl, 3 year-old boy and 18 month-old girl were inside the car that had been left with the keys in the ignition. The family's puppy was also inside the car.
San Diego police Lt. Steve Shaw said the father heard what sounded like his car driving off.
"He went outside and his vehicle was gone," Shaw said.
Approximately 30 minutes later California Highway Patrol Officer Derek Meissen spotted the car on State Route 125 at Jamacha.
The suspect led officers on a pursuit up SR-125 and over to State Route 94. The car took the College Avenue exit before hitting a curb and crashing on Acorn Street.
Officers took the 15-year-old suspect into custody.
Meissen said the children witnessed the entire arrest.
"They were very scared. The little girl came out. She was freaking out while we were trying to take custody of the driver so we had to get her out of the way but she was very scared," he said.
San Diego police took the 15-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released because she is a minor, to Juvenile Hall on charges of auto theft, robbery and kidnapping.
Police initially told NBC 7 that the dad stopped at the mom’s work and thought he had locked the car when he went to talk to her.
They later said the father had left the keys in the car, giving the suspect an opportunity to hop in and make a getaway.
The carjacking appears to be random.
Officials were preparing to issue an Amber Alert, but Officer Meissen spotted the car a half hour after it was reported stolen.