MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three children were found safe after the car they were sitting in was stolen outside a Miami mini-mart Monday afternoon, police said.
The gray 2005 Ford 500 and the children were located several blocks away from the location of the alleged theft, which took place at Northwest 1st Court and 62nd Street in Miami.
The woman found driving the car is being questioned, police Det. Willie Moreno said.
According to authorities, the father of two of the children, Anthony Milhomme, was taken into custody and is facing child neglect and obstruction charges for leaving the kids in the car unattended. Police say the obstruction charge stems from his claim that he left the children for two minutes, but the investigation revealed he was away for at least 15 minutes.
The ordeal began at about 2:30 Monday afternoon when the father of five year old Anthony and six year old Kaila Milhomme picked the kids up at Morningside Elementary, at 6620 NE 5 Avenue, along with his nephew six year old Isaiah Paul, Moreno said.
The man decided to stop at a nearby mini-mart at NW 1st Court and 62nd Street.
He left the kids in the car with the engine running as he went inside, Moreno said.
When he returned the car and kids were gone.
He immediately called the children’s mothers and the police.
Sharonda Scott, the mother of Anthony and Kaila, made an emotional plea in front of cameras for her children to be returned safe.
“Your mommy loves you so much,” Scott said through tears.
A short time after her tearful interview, police rushed Northwest 1st Avenue and 58th Street where the car was stopped by an officer.
A vigilant passerby noticed the car and called police, who then conducted a traffic stop, Moreno said.
The three kids were found safe inside the vehicle and were taken back to the original crime scene to be reunited with their mother and other family members.
They were then driven to the police station for interviews.
“It was scary,” said 6-year old Kaila Millhomme. “A lady got in.”
That lady, police say, was Velan Verdier, 33. She was taken into custody. Police say while in the car, she stole five dollars from one of the children.
Verdier is charged with one count each of Grand Theft Auto and Armed Robbery. She is also charged with three counts of Abduction.
Police did not immediately say if the woman being questioned for taking the car is related to the children.