An Amber Alert has been canceled after two toddlers were found safe after being abducted during a car theft in Cathedral City, California, according to KTLA.
At around 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, a babysitter — whose name has not been released – was traveling in a white 2016 Honda Accord (with all windows tinted) with 1-year-old Jayden Cortez and his brother 2-year-old Carlos Cortez in the backseat when a stop was made at 31500 block of Whispering Palms, near McCallum Way, in Cathedral City to run an errand.
It was not immediately made clear how long the babysitter left the children in the car, but when the babysitter returned to the vehicle, it was gone.
The toddlers were still inside the vehicle when it was stolen.
THIS JUST IN: Amber Alert issued for 2 kids, ages 1 & 2, taken in white 2016 Honda Accord out of Cathedral City; license plate 7TJR654 pic.twitter.com/LmVpA3oofO
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 24, 2017
Cathedral City police officials were immediately notified of the abduction and an Amber Alert was issued that provided a description of the toddlers and what they were last seen wearing.
In a Facebook post, the Cathedral City police wrote, “Tonight at 6:44 p.m., an unknown suspect stole a white 2016 Honda Accord, with two Hispanic male children ages 1 and 2 years old, from the 31500 block of Whispering Palms, in Cathedral City.
“The license plate on the vehicle is 7TJR654. The vehicle was last seen heading towards Ramon Rd. Anyone with information please call 911.”
When the father of the Cathedral City toddlers, also named Carlos Cortez, learned that his children were abducted during a car theft, he made a desperate plea on his Facebook page, writing, “My boys are in the car if anyone sees anything please let me know or the police.
“Please help me out and keep an eye out.”
Afterward, a massive search for the missing toddlers began.
The Amber Alert was canceled the following day after the abducted Cathedral City toddlers were found safe.
It was reported that around 2:40 p.m., a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy was driving in Desert Hot Springs, searching for the toddlers, when a vehicle matching the description of the stolen car came into view.
The vehicle was parked at a church with its engine still running. When the deputy looked inside, he discovered the missing toddlers inside.
Apparently, the suspect(s) abandoned the vehicle before fleeing, according to the Cathedral City Police Department in a Twitter post.
After the missing toddlers were found safe, Jayden and Carlos were transported to a local hospital for an evaluation. It was not immediately made clear if the toddlers suffered any injuries during the abduction, but they have since been released from the hospital and reunited with their family.
In a Facebook post, the toddler’s father wrote, “To everyone who prayed and helped my little family in any way, I appreciate it very much. We just got informed that my babies are safe. Thank you, everyone, for all the shares and prayers.”
“It was good old-fashioned police work,” Cathedral City Deputy Police Chief Travis Walker said. “Everybody just came together to find these kids. It was truly an awe-inspiring to see the response.”
— Intl. Business Times (@IBTimes) March 24, 2017
Cathedral City police officials do not have any information on the abduction and car theft suspect(s), but a “thorough forensic investigation will be conducted in an effort to identify the suspect(s).”
It was reported that “investigators may get help from surveillance cameras, though he didn’t say where those cameras were located.”
Walker added that he hopes the incident will remind people to “not leave their vehicle idling or unattended,” as it is an “invitation for people to take your car.”
If anyone has information regarding the Cathedral City abduction and car theft, you are urged to contact Det. Alirio Moulin at 760-770-0381 or Sgt. Alberto Ruiz at 760-770-0320.
An investigation is underway.
[Featured Image by IanMcD/iStock]