LANHAM, Md. – A trip into a convenience store turned terrifying for a mother in Lanham.

Last Thursday, the mother parked her car outside of the store in the 9100 block of Annapolis Road. She then went inside and left her car running. Minutes later, two criminals drove off in the car – with the mother’s nine-month-old baby inside. The mother tried to reach her baby as the car pulled away, but couldn’t. Thankfully, the baby was found unharmed a short time later.

Detectives recovered the stolen car and have since identified and are in the process for applying for charges for two teenage suspects with abduction and auto theft.

On August 16th, a man left his car running and walked into a liquor store in the 5400 block of Marlboro Pike. Approximately one minute later, a suspect walked up to the car, got into the driver’s seat and stole it. This car was also recovered but was heavily damaged. Detectives identified and arrested the suspect. He’s 57-year-old Patrick Alfred of the 5000 block of Cranmer Way in Capitol Heights.

Patrick Alfred

“These are crimes of opportunity and we cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to leave a car running unattended. Even for a few seconds. That’s all it takes for criminals. What’s worse is that in many of our stolen car cases, the cars are then used in others crimes,” said Lt. Jordan Swonger of our Special Investigation Division.

So far this year, victims have reported 286 of these jump-in thefts across the county. That’s up 362% from this time last year. These crimes occur in residential neighborhoods and outside of businesses. Detectives ultimately locate only half of all stolen cars.