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Children safe after suspected thief jumps into minivan, quickly leaves

Posted February 9, 2012

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— A man hopped into a minivan parked outside a Southern Pines day care early Tuesday but ran off without taking anything, leaving two children unharmed in the back seat, police said Thursday.

Jazzma Thomas said she was dropping her boyfriend's toddler at Humpty Dumpty Nursery on Richards Street shortly after 6 a.m. and parked her Dodge Caravan outside. His other two children, ages 4 and 2, were strapped in car seats in back, she said, but she left them there, figuring she wouldn't be gone for more than a minute.

"Don't allow yourself to be lulled to believing that anything cannot happen in the blink of an eye," said Lt. Rodney Hardy of the Southern Pines Police Department.

As she went inside, a man came out of the shadows and jumped into the vehicle, Hardy said, noting the day care's security camera captured the incident on tape.

"He gets in through the driver's door, goes straight to the console of the car, then (jumps) out in less than 30 seconds," Hardy said.

Police said he was likely looking for a purse or something he could grab easily from the minivan. Finding nothing, he ran off into the darkness.

"Unfortunately it's a crime of opportunity," Hardy said.

Thomas said she turned off the minivan and thought she had locked it with her remote button. When she returned, the 4-year-old told her a man had gotten into the van and was looking for something on the floor, she said.

Humpty Dumpty Nursery in Southern Pines Woman says she learned lesson about leaving children unattended

The child was scared, and she said she was as well.

Police alerted the Moore County Department of Social Services, as required by law in a case involving children. It was unclear Thursday whether Thomas could face a child endangerment charge.

"The issue is, don't leave children unattended and lock your doors, even if you're gone for a very short period of time," Hardy said.

A sign posted inside Humpty Dumpty Nursery says, “When dropping your kids off, or picking them up, please make sure your car is turned off and doors are locked.”

Day care owner David Miller said he takes every possible precaution to protect children.

"I can’t control a person walking up the street," Miller said. “I can’t control what parents do when they pull up."

Thomas, 22, said she has learned her lesson and will never leave the children alone in a car again.

10 Comments

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  • ajpettitt Feb 10, 2012

    All the holier than thou she should be charged should trying living in the Mothers shoes a few days, Yes, I agree she should not have left kids in the car unattended, however, maybe we need to spend more time looking at how we can help the Mothers/Fathers who have to drive 2 or more kids to different locations daily avoid the problem of leaving the unattended in the first place. Day care centers/schools and other centers where drop offs are necessary could create drop off greeters to get the child instead of the parent having to get out of the vehicle and escort the child inside, creating traffic problems and other difficulties. just a thought.

  • FromClayton Feb 10, 2012

    God bless a mama trying to get to work by 8am with small children. I know she was wrong, but i just can't throw stones in my position. I found my toddler climbing up the steps by himself the other morning. He had wiggled the gate down while I was getting ready. Nothing bad happend, but it could have. I guess you just learn from your mistakes and say a little prayer your kids will turn out safe and all right in the end.

  • my3cents Feb 9, 2012

    This also happened within the last few yrs at another day care in Southern Pines West side, where a guy took someones purse from her car while she was dropping her children inside.

    And have you ever tried to get 3 small children to day care and school and get yourself to work on time and have to take every child out of the car. It is not easy, and yes I have left 2 school age children in the car when the entrance to my day care was within 10 feet of me dropping off a small child. I did not like doing it, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! I made sure the car was locked and the engine off, but if you want to "throw some stones" you should try this as a single Mom with 3 children and no help and have to work to pay the bills!!!

  • kbird Feb 9, 2012

    People are so quick to pass judgement and yes she shouldn't have left them in the car, but think about how many times you see an infant, either in their mother's arms or in a carseat, in a gas station...almost never. It is extremely difficult to get around today with all of the equipment children require and more people do this than would admit it. Just an observation.

  • YaNot Feb 9, 2012

    "(Thomas said she turned off the minivan and thought she had locked it with her remote button.) You thought wrong, charge her.
    turbo08

    Is it just me or does she still not get it. Even if the car had been locked (which we know it wasn't), she still had no business leaving a 4yr old and 2yr old unattended in a locked or unlocked car.

  • turbo08 Feb 9, 2012

    (Thomas said she turned off the minivan and thought she had locked it with her remote button.)

    You thought wrong, charge her.

  • eoglane Feb 9, 2012

    Why did she leave the children alone in a car at that age. Only takes a second for things to go wrong.

  • YaNot Feb 9, 2012

    "Police alerted the Moore County Department of Social Services, as required by law in a case involving children. It was unclear Thursday whether Thomas could face a child endangerment charge."

    She most definitely should be charged.

  • Iworkforaliving Feb 9, 2012

    the impulse to bail has crossed my mind after getting in my friends car with their kids.

  • turkeydance Feb 9, 2012

    except for a detailed description of the 'bad guy':good reporting.
    take your key/lock your car/etc. everywhere and all the time.