Mesa PD: Man steals vehicle with child, grandmother inside

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 11 at 7:24 AM

MESA, Ariz. – Mesa police say a woman and her grandchild are safe after a man stole a van while they were sitting inside.

The child's mother stopped at a Food City at Alma School Road and Eighth Avenue in Mesa Thursday morning. She left the child and grandmother inside the van with the air-conditioning running while she went into the store for a quick item, according to Mesa police spokesman Detective Steve Berry.

A man jumped into the running vehicle and drove away, apparently not realizing the child and grandmother were inside.

Berry said the driver got stopped in traffic at Baseline Road and Interstate 10. That's when the grandmother opened the back door and attempted to get out of the van.

A Tempe police officer noticed the van driving with the door open and stopped the vehicle to find out what was happening.

Berry said the suspect was taken into custody without incident and the victims are safe.

The suspect has been identified as Ralph F. Esposito Jr., 44. He has been booked on two counts of kidnapping, one count of theft of means of transportation and aggravated DUI.

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