CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Kanawha County man was taken into custody Monday afternoon after allegedly stealing a car with a 9-month-old baby in the backseat.
Charleston Police Department Lt. Shawn Williams said Chris Linville, 20, of Elkview, took the unlocked car from a One Stop parking lot near the state capitol at 1:30 p.m. The baby’s mother had gone into the convenience store to get a cup of coffee.
Williams said every officer on duty along with police officers from other agencies began searching for the stolen car. Williams told MetroNews a short time later they found the car and the baby.
“We had an off-duty officer who was listening to the radio, you guys put that information out, he drove up on the car on Wertz Avenue. The baby was inside, found unharmed. He secured the baby, notified 911 and officers responded to that area,” Lt. Williams said.
Several police agencies and K-9 units tracked Linville down a few minutes later in a nearby apartment complex.
“We set up a perimeter and with the help of the State Police and our K-9s we were able to find him,” Williams said.
Linville was charged with grand larceny, abduction and felony child neglect. He was arraigned and lodged in the South Central Regional Jail on $250,000 cash only bail.
Police weren’t initially sure if Linville knew the baby was inside the car when he took it.
“I would venture to say that he probably did not when he first took the car. And the fact that he abandoned the car with the baby inside that he probably did know (at that time), but we’ll see what he has to say,” Williams said.
Police were very concerned with the situation given temperatures were in the single digits when the incident occurred.
Police said the mother had the car in her view while in the convenience store. Lt. Williams said the situation had a very fortunate ending for the mother and child.
“In today’s day and age you can’t be too safe especially with your children,” Williams said. “You can’t leave them unattended.”