Salt Lake City man finds 12-year-old in car he stole, waves down officer to return the boy

A Salt Lake City man got more than he bargained for Monday morning when he found a 12-year-old boy in the backseat of a car he stole from a hotel.

The theft occurred outside of the Courtyard Marriott near the Salt Lake City airport at 3:42 a.m. Monday, according to Salt Lake City police. The mother of the boy had gone into the hotel to check in and left the boy in the car with the keys.

The man took the car but quickly realized he wasn’t alone in it.

“We believe he was just trying to steal the vehicle and didn’t know the kid was in there,” said Sgt. Brandon Shearer.

The man pulled onto eastbound Interstate 80, but within minutes flagged an officer down to report he had just stolen the vehicle with the child in it, Shearer said.

The 23-year-old man was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of first-degree felony kidnapping, second-degree felony theft of a motor vehicle and a third-degree probation violation.

The boy was returned to his mother unharmed, Shearer said.

While the man has not been officially charged with kidnapping, Shearer said the department has had cases before where intent wasn’t shown but the suspect was still charged with kidnapping.