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Man arrested for stealing car with 3-year-old inside, police say

Police said the mother left her car running while she quickly ran inside a store, and that's when a man stole her vehicle with her child in the backseat.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A man is in police custody after stealing a car with a toddler inside.

Winston-Salem police said officers were called to the Sheetz at 1551 Glenn Center Drive in Winston-Salem on Saturday for a reported kidnapping.

Police said a woman left her car running while she went inside the store. When she returned, her 2004 Toyota Highlander, with her 3-year-old inside, was gone. 

About an hour later, Thomasville police got a call about a child abandoned in a car seat on Winston Street. Officers responded and confirmed the child was the same toddler reported missing.

Davidson County EMS evaluated the child to make sure he was OK, and police said the mother and child were reunited. 

Then just after 11 p.m., a Randolph County deputy spotted the mother's stolen car in the area of Highway 62 near Meadowbrook Drive in Trinity. 

Deputies said they found Raymond O'Neal asleep in the vehicle and blocking traffic. 

Officials said O'Neal woke up and tried to drive off, but was taken into custody after they said he resisted arrest and assaulted the deputy. 

Credit: Randolph County Sheriff's Office
Raymond O'Neal

O'Neal faces several charges from multiple agencies, including first-degree kidnapping, larceny of a motor vehicle, misdemeanor resisting a public officer, and misdemeanor assault on a government official. 

Lt. David Rose with the Winston-Salem Police Department said this was a case that could have been prevented.

"I think that it's critical when we see these events the parent is clearly traumatized but a three-year-old, there's going to be trauma with that but what happens is this parent will never do this again. This parent is going to tell their friends about it, and their friends are never going to do this again we would like to package that and magnify it to people that have not been the victim of these types of crimes. You are one poor decision from being a victim of this crime if you're in the habit of leaving your vehicle running and your children in the car I would take it a step further I would never leave my car running unattended whether there's a child in it or not because this crime would not have occurred had the vehicle been secured," Lt. Rose said. 

O'neal was scheduled for court Monday in Randolph County but it got continued until June 8th. His bond and court date for the kidnapping in Winston-Salem are pending. 

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