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Aug 28, 2014 1:03 AM by Lauren Reimer

Parents relieved after their toddler is found safe after carjacking

TUCSON - A toddler goes for a wild ride, when the car he's sitting in was stolen. He was still strapped into his carseat.

The carjacking suspect led Tucson Police on a chase through busy, south-side Tucson streets, during rush hour, before ending in the driver's arrest.

It all began at the shopping center on Irvington and Campbell. Claudia Arvizu was inside getting her new car insured.

"We just got it two days ago," she said.

Her one-year-old son Eli was asleep inside that 2004 Accord, his father, Jose Perez, was waiting with him.

"Right when he came out to give me the VIN number, he came back out there was no baby, there was no car," said Arvizu.

The suspect, a 32-year-old man, jumped inside and drove off. Perez tried to stop him.

"I ran after him, I ran after the guy," he said.

Two miles away, the man stopped at an apartment complex, chose a random door, and left the child behind, unharmed.

"She started barking and went to the door real loud," said neighbor Melanie Barber- Miller, whose dog alerted her to what was going on outside. "I automatically went over and opened my front door and there this child was in a car seat, a little boy, screaming."

The driver was already gone, but he didn't make it very far before he wrecked the car, rolling it over.

The man then broke into a nearby home, found a set of keys, and stole yet another vehicle, a grey van, and took off north toward Wakefield Middle School, crashing through a gate, overturning tables, and driving through the baseball field.

"We have about 120 kids in the place, and all of a sudden we heard a loud crash and something dragging," said Jansen Azarias, Executive Director for the ‘Higher Ground Resource Center' located at the school.

Luckily, no kids were outside, and no one was hurt, but things could have been much different.

"By the grace of god we missed it by a good 5, 10 minutes," said Azarias.

By now, Tucson police were chasing the stolen van, and a helicopter was keeping tabs from above.

The ordeal ended with yet another crash in an ally near 6th Avenue and 32nd Street.

The crime spree lasted a little more than 40 minutes, and covered about 10 miles. The man behind the wheel was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He could face several charges felony including kidnapping, theft of a vehicle, and felony flight.

The little boy's parents are just glad to have him home safe. "He will sleep with us tonight, " said Arvizu.

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