Police: Delco man stole SUV with baby in back seat, parents could face charges

MARPLE, Pa. (WPVI) -- A Delaware County man is facing charges, accused of stealing an SUV from a shopping center last weekend with a baby in the back seat.

He has been identified as 22-year-old Dillon Valenti of Havertown.

Police say it was around 5 p.m. Saturday when they received a frantic call from parents that their car had been stolen with their 1-year-old daughter in the back seat.

They tell police they had left the car running with the doors unlocked while they went to a bakery at the Shoppes At Sproul Plaza on South Sproul Road in Broomall, and then Wawa on the other end of the plaza.

"We believe from the investigation this car was left unattended for about 10 minutes, left running unlocked," said Marple Township Police Lt. Brandon Graeff.

An affidavit of probable cause says that's when Valenti noticed the car running and unlocked as he was going in to the Wawa to get food.

When he came out, the car was still there unattended, and he walked across the street. He turned around later and noticed the car was still unattended, and decided to go back and drive off with it. A short time later, he noticed the child in the back seat.

"Fortunately he had some scruples, at least, when he realized that there was a child in the back of the car, he ditched the car fairly close to the scene," said Lt. Graeff.

Police were able to recover the car pretty quickly, left still running with the headlights and heater on along Langford Road. The child was unharmed.

With the suspect now in custody, police are turning their attention to the parents - one in her 30s, the other in his 40s.

"As a cop and a parent myself, I would think no parent needs to be made aware of this. Your kids are in the car, they're your No. 1 responsibility, no matter what," said Lt. Graeff.

Police say they have been conferring with the Delaware County District Attorney's Office. The minimum charge the parents could face is a traffic citation of leaving a child unattended, but they could be facing more serious charges of child endangerment and recklessly endangering another person.

A decision could be made as early as Thursday.
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