An Alexandria man was charged with theft of a motor vehicle and simple kidnapping after stealing a car at Family Dollar in Vidalia Monday with a 2-year-old child in the back seat.
Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill said 68-year-old Matthew Watson, 2912 Chicago St., Alexandria was picked up and arrested while walking on the Vidalia-Ferriday Highway after abandoning the car at Delta Fuel on the highway.
Merrill said a female called 911 around 2:45 p.m. Monday saying her vehicle had been stolen from the Family Dollar in Vidalia and her two-year-old child was in the car.
"All of our officers responded to the scene," Merrill said."Once on the scene they received a report that the vehicle left the Family Dollar parking lot and turned west on Carter Street toward Ferriday. Our officers gave chase."
Merrill said a local State Trooper on duty in the area was notified and advised Vidalia officers that he had just previously written a ticket to the owner of the vehicle and was able to provide license plate information.
"That pertinent information was broadcast to the officers and the dispatcher," Merrill said. "One of our officers was able to get the mother's vehicle location by pinging her cell phone which was left in the car. The phone showed the location on the Ferriday-Vidalia highway."
Merrill said an officer near Delta Fuel found the car in the parking lot.
"Other officers arrived and they found the child still restrained in the car seat," Merrill said. "The driver of the vehicle was not on the scene when our officers arrived and they found the child still restrained in the car seat. The driver of the vehicle was not on the scene when our officers arrived and secured the child."
Merrill said Metro Ambulance was dispatched to the scene and assessed the child, who was reported to be unharmed.
"Officers located a subject matching the description given by witnesses," Merrill said. "He was walking down the highway just before you get into Ferriday. The suspect was taken into custody without incident and charged with theft of a motor vehicle and simple kidnapping."
Merrill said the mother of the child was charged with leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle.
Merrill praised the efforts of his officers and dispatcher.
"This was a very critical incident where we were able to respond rapidly and effectively," he said. "It shows the results of the training we do as law enforcement and how things come together when there is teamwork with other agencies."
The Vidalia Police Department is also investigating several break-ins of vehicles at night in Vidalia.
Merrill said residents need to do a routine check at 9 p.m., making sure all valuables are removed from your vehicle, lock your doors, close the garage door and lock the inside door, close and lock all exterior doors and windows, turn on the outside lights of your home and set your home and or vehicle alarms.