MARGATE (CBSMiami) — A 17-year-old accused of stealing a car with a baby inside did not have a driver’s license.
Margate Police said Alex Exantus was arrested overnight at his home in North Lauderdale.
Officers said he admitted to stealing the car.
The teen is now facing charges of grand theft auto and occupied burglary of conveyance. Charges of false imprisonment of a child are pending.
Investigators said the mother, Elizabeth Marchand, left her 9-month-old baby in the family BMW, unattended, outside a post office on Tuesday.
That’s when the thief made his move just after 5 p.m. at 5094 Coconut Creek Parkway, officers say.
When she returned, the baby and her car were gone.
Margate Police and the Broward Sheriff’s Office launched a frantic search.
Officers located the car and swarmed an apartment complex near Florida’s Turnpike and McNab Road – just three miles from the post office.
Hours later Exantus was arrested.
“With the help of the media getting the information out and our multi jurisdictional effort, we were able to coordinate everything and get the car and make sure the baby was returned safely,” said Sgt. Lori Eller.
Exantus was brought to court by his mother after being released into her custody.
D’Oench discovered in court that he’s been arrested at least twice before and has no driver’s license.
“The court found probable cause for the charges,” said Defense Attorney Kory Hill.
The attorney for Exantus is worried he may eventually be charged as an adult.
“We are concerned because he is nearly 18-years-old and there is a chance that he could be charged as an adult before he is 18,” said Hill.
Police have not said if there will be charges filed against Marchand.
They said they are looking at all aspects of this case, which a lot of people at the post office were talking about.
“We need to think about classes for mothers and grandmothers to help children and keep this from happening because, too often, this is happening and the kids are not safe,” said post office customer Beverly Quallo.
“You can’t do that. No, no, no, you can’t do that and go inside the post office,” said post office customer Irma Jean.
So what about the mom? Could she face charges?
“We all tend to jump to a quick conclusion without knowing the facts,” said David Weinstein.
And here is the law:
“A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle: For a period in excess of 15 minutes. For any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running, the health of the child is in danger, or the child appears to be in distress… it’s misdemeanor of the second degree… punishable by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.”
“She leaves her car running, she leaves the windows up, air conditioning is on, she is making sure the child is not going to be in a hot car,” said Weinstein. “In hindsight should she have unbuckled her child in and taken the child in.”
Bottom line, the mom could get a ticket, a fine, prosecution up to the state attorney, who will look at intent.
“Under the circumstances, she acted reasonably. Was she exhibiting a reckless disregard for human life of a child? No,” said Weinstein.
The Florida Department of Children and Families said they are not investigating the mother or her family.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench tried to speak to the mother but when they got to the home, no one wanted to speak.
As for Exantus, he will remain on home detention pending another hearing on November 7th.