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Man steals car with 6YO girl inside; Suffolk woman details the moment she found her

Suffolk police say 27-year-old Juwan Allen stole a car idling at a 7-Eleven on West Washington Street. A 6-year-old girl was inside the car when he took off.

SUFFOLK, Va. — Sometimes, it's just the right place at the right time.

That's the case for a Suffolk woman who feels she was where she was supposed to be when she found a young girl wandering her neighborhood.

"It was just by the grace of God that she found us," the woman, who didn't want to be identified, told 13News Now. 

The neighbor said she was driving home after dropping her daughter off at daycare and came upon a 6-year-old girl walking around a front law by her home.

"She ran up to the house, saying, 'I don't know where I am. I can't find my daddy. I don't know where my mommy is,'" the neighbor explained. "I handed her my phone and thankfully, she knew her mom's number. I got on the phone with her mom and she's...mom obviously upset, dad upset."

It's not just the right place and right time. The neighbor said she happened to be the right person since her son actually knew the little girl from school. She said her son immediately recognized the girl as his classmate.

"Immediately, that calmed her down. She was very rattled when she approached us," she said. "She was able to give me a vague description. By the sound of it, she was asleep and she woke up to realize her dad was no longer with her."

The neighbor said the girl appeared uninjured from the incident.

She said she then called 911, knowing something bad must've happened to have landed the girl in her presence. That's when she said she learned from police officers that it was the same girl who was alone inside a car at a 7-Eleven when a man jumped into the car and sped away.

Suffolk police said 27-year-old Juwan Allen stole the girl's father's car from the 7-Eleven on West Washington Street. According to officers, the father called around 6:30 a.m., saying he had left his daughter in the car with the keys in it Wednesday morning and someone took off with his daughter inside. 

Police then met the girl with the neighbor on Smalley's Dam Circle, just a few miles away from the 7-Eleven, and that's where their investigation began. 

"We were able to find video of the vehicle and be able to track the vehicle out of the city," said Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler, referring to the license plate reader detection system his team used to track down the vehicle. 

Chief Chandler said with the help of Franklin and Southampton police, they tracked the car to Franklin minutes later on Pretlow Street. They found the car empty on Edwards Street, determining that Allen ran away from the car. 

Authorities said they took the video they got through LPR cameras and showed people images of the footage to help track Allen down. They said thanks to several people pointing them in the right direction, they found Allen in the back of a home on Hayden Drive, about two minutes away from where he left the car.

Chief Chandler said he's grateful for the community's effort in quickly getting the girl to safety.

"The fact that we had citizens there working with the police department and the way all these agencies worked together, is incredibly important in keeping this little girl safe," Chandler said. 

Chief Chandler said Allen was taken into custody without incident.  

He faces several charges, including Grand Larceny (Motor Vehicle Theft), Abduction, Child Endangerment, and Petit Larceny.  Allen is currently held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail with no bond.

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