A search was under way Wednesday for the thief who stole a vehicle with two young children inside from a parking lot outside a Norwalk cleaning business, prompting officials to issue an Amber Alert until the two were found safely nearly three hours later.
Noel Vasquez, 4, and his 2-year-old sister, Sheryl Lynn Vasquez, were sitting inside the Toyota Scion when it was stolen from outside the business at 14414 Pioneer Blvd. about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to Capt. Patrick Maxwell of the Norwalk Sheriff's Station.
The children's father left his children secure in the back seat with the keys in the ignition and the engine running while he went into the cleaners, said Deputy Lillian Peck of the Sheriff's Headquarters Building.
When he returned some two minutes later, the van and his children were gone, Peck said. Maxwell said it was not clear if the suspect knew that there were two children watching movies in the back seat of the 2005 dark blue van with dark tinted windows.
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Deputies from the sheriff's Compton Station later found the children unharmed inside the vehicle at a gas station at Atlantic Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue in Compton about 6:30 p.m., said Peck.
The suspect, who remains at large, was described as a Latino of unknown age, with a shaved head. He was wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts, and may have also been wearing a black beanie cap.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts was asked to call the sheriff's Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.