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Utah car thief returns minivan after finding toddler inside

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A would-be car thief surrendered to Utah authorities after realizing the family minivan she sped off in was carrying precious human cargo, a 3-year old girl, Salt Lake City police said on Monday.

The child’s mother left the Dodge Caravan parked and running outside the family’s west Salt Lake City home Sunday morning while she went back to lock the front door.

It was then, police said, a 22-year-old woman jumped into the driver’s seat and sped away. The mother saw the van pull away with her daughter inside and called police, Detective Greg Wilkins said. 

But the van was back in the driveway within minutes. After spotting the toddler, the thief turned around and returned the child, Wilkins said. She also asked if she could wait inside the family home for police. The child was not injured. 

“She didn’t tell us why she did it,” Wilkins said. “It’s just strange. (The mother) didn’t expect her to come back.”

The woman was being held in the Salt Lake County jail for investigation of charges including felony and misdemeanor theft, shoplifting and drug possession. During a search, police found the van owner’s cellphone tucked inside the would-be thief’s bra, a police report said. 

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Steve Orlofsky)