Lakeland police say a 16-year-old stole a car with two children inside

LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland Police plan to charge a 16-year-old with carjacking and two counts of kidnapping after they said he stole a car with two children inside.

Police say the teenager stole the car that a woman left running in a Circle K parking lot on North Florida Avenue in Lakeland, Jan. 4. The incident happened around 7 a.m. The Circle K is across the street from Lakeland Regional Health.

The woman says she left the two children in the car while she ran inside the convenience store to get them food. 

In the surveillance video provided by police, you can see the suspect get into the car and stop before he left the parking lot. Authorities say the two kids jumped out and ran to safety.

A Circle K employee called 911.

"We just had a customer (say) that some guy came, took the children out the car, and stole her vehicle from …..the store," the employee told a dispatcher.

Investigators say the suspect later ditched the car in a neighborhood and ran off. 

“No I never saw him. I just woke up to the officers. I seen the officers," a woman, who did not want to be identified, said.

The woman lives in the neighborhood where the stolen car was abandoned. She remembered hearing commotion that morning. 

“I heard them running, jumping over this fence, and then after so long I heard more officers come back with the dogs," she said.

While the suspect got away on the 4th, officers tracked down their suspect thanks to tips.

According to Lakeland detectives, the suspect was picked up recently on separate charges. They said they have connected the 16-year-old to this crime and plan to charge him.

"Obviously he didn't learn his lesson in the past. Like I said, he has a lengthy record, so something has not worked in his past. He’s got a problem so it’s a good thing that he’s locked up and we hope that he stays in jail at this point," Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police Department said.

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