3-year-old located safely after suspect steals car from parents in Santa Maria

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A child asleep in the backseat of a stolen car in Santa Maria was found safe and the suspect has been arrested.

At about 6:33 Friday night police were called to the 1000 block of North School on a report of a stolen car. When they arrived, the victims told police a woman jumped into their vehicle in the driveway and took off.  They also told police they left a sleeping 3-year-old in the back seat.

An officer working a theft investigation in the area began to search for the missing vehicle but because the car had just been bought, the victims were not able to provide officers with a license plate number.

However, about 15 minutes later, with a basic description of the stolen car,  an officer working a different case nearby located the vehicle matching the description and made a pulled the driver over in the 100 block of E. Donovan Road.

Police arrested the driver, Rene Martinez, 34, of Santa Maria. The child was found safely in the back seat of the car still strapped inside his child safety seat.

Martinez was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on multiple criminal charges.

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