MUNSTER | A missing 1-year-old Milwaukee girl was found safe in Munster late Wednesday night thanks to the help of a local resident who noticed the child was not in a car seat and called police.
Lt. Ed Strbjak, of the Munster Police Department, said police were called at 11:23 p.m. to the Munster Marathon gas station, 7890 Calumet Ave., for a report of a baby in the front seat of a vehicle without a child safety seat.
Officer Justin Goudreau responded to the call and found a vehicle parked north of the front door of the Marathon station with a small child inside.
A 24-year-old woman told Goudreau she was on her way to purchase a car seat for the child, Strbjak said.
The vehicle did not have a license plate on it. A check of the vehicle identification number showed the vehicle was reported stolen out of Milwaukee and indicated a missing person was associated with the theft.
The woman allegedly told Goudreau said she was traveling from Texas, but then became argumentative and began fighting with the officer.
Goudreau took the woman into custody. The woman, who is the child's noncustodial mother, is being held by police and charges of resisting arrest and possession of a stolen auto are pending locally, Strbjak said.
The baby was warm, properly dressed and was not harmed, Strbjak said. The child was taken into custody by Child Protective Services, he said.
Strbjak said the missing child's case had yet to be released in an Amber Alert in Wisconsin, so the public was not yet being asked to be on the lookout for the mother and child.
He praised the tipster who called about the child not being properly restrained in the vehicle.
"It just shows you how the concern of the public can bring a happy ending," Strbjak said.
Lt. Mark Stanmeyer, of the Milwaukee Police Department, said the saga began when mother met with an employee of the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to return the child after an arranged visit.
The mother allegedly refused to return the child, struck the child welfare worker and fled with the baby in tow.
The mother allegedly stole a dark blue, two-door 2001 Honda Civic from an auto dealership owned by a a relative in Milwaukee and left the city with her daughter, Stanmeyer said.
Milwaukee police entered the information about the auto theft and the missing child into the National Crime Database, Stanmeyer said. That database is what provided the critical information to Munster police when they checked the Civic's VIN, he said.
Milwaukee police also issued a media statement late Wednesday night asking for the public's help in locating the missing child, mother and vehicle. Munster police made their arrest a short time later.
Milwaukee police plan to take the case to the Milwaukee district attorney's office and request charges of kidnapping, auto theft and battery, he said.
Stanmeyer said Milwaukee police will seek extradition.