Sometimes it’s dangerous to take your eyes off your children, even for a minute. Regina Poole learned that lesson the hard way Saturday afternoon in Tempe.
The Tempe mother’s two young kids — Malachi, 18 months, and Taleah, 3 — were strapped safely in the back seat of her silver 2001 Kia Optima about 3 p.m. when she parked outside a friend’s apartment at 1876 E. Hayden Lane, near McClintock Drive and Apache Boulevard.
She just had to run upstairs to a second-story apartment and grab a telephone number. She left the car running with the air conditioning on, and, with a quick turn of her head, it was never out of sight.
But Poole didn’t see the thief creep into the driver’s seat.
All she saw was the car begin to roll away. Poole said she immediately called 911.
“They had just fallen asleep and I was just knocking on the door,” Poole said an hour later, after her children had been recovered.
Tempe police Sgt. Dan Masters said officers had been within a minute or two of issuing an Amber Alert.
But before they did, they received a phone call. The car and kids had been abandoned in the parking lot of Calvary Baptist Church, 2066 E. Don Carlos, only a few blocks from where they had been taken.
Church workers called police after the car had been sitting in the parking lot, engine and air conditioning on, for about 45 minutes. The kidnapper had already fled.
Paramedics arrived at the church and checked out the youngsters, who weren’t harmed.
Poole called the feeling of having her children back indescribable.
Her message to the thief was one of gratitude: “Thank you for not hurting my kids,” she said.
Poole and the children’s father, Ray Davis, drove home with their kids about 90 minutes after the incident.
Police do not have a suspect description. Anyone with information should call Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377.