Two stolen cars with children inside reported in one day

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Michael Munguia By Jennifer Thomas Michael Munguia By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX – Frank Rapoza says Tuesday was the scariest day of his life. “Shoot, turned out to be a freaking crazy day today!"

He is the manager of a series of apartments near Dobbins Road and Seventh Street. He was checking on one of the apartments when someone ditched a stolen car and a kidnapped child. Rapoza was walking around the building when police drove up with their guns drawn.

"I turned around and I have two cops with guns pointed at me saying ‘freeze!'" Rapoza said.

Police were there looking for a 2-year-old child and a red Nissan that was stolen just a few minutes earlier.

According to investigators, a mother ran into a Cricket Wireless store at Southern and Central avenues in Phoenix. She left the engine running and her 2-year-old child in the back seat. Someone stole the car with the child inside. The thieves ditched the vehicle a few blocks away.

The child was found playing in a nearby front yard.

No arrests have been made in this incident.

"The children that we are finding in these cars, these infants, can't care for themselves,” said Sgt. Trent Crump with the Phoenix Police Department. “They are relying on someone else for their care. Someone else is responsible for them."

A few hours before the child was taken from the Cricket store, another car was stolen with a 1-year-old inside.

Detectives say a family friend left the engine running in his SUV and went to the ATM at a Food City near 19th Avenue and Indian School Road. The driver left the child in a car seat in the vehicle.

Thieves stole the car with the child inside. They drove a few blocks before ditching both the car and the baby.

Michael Munguia, 20, was booked for auto theft and an outstanding felony warrant. A second suspect thought to be involved was arrested on unrelated charges but was not charged in this incident.

The parents in both of cases could face charges, according to Crump.

"I know in both of these cases we will be looking at whether this reaches a criminal level of negligence and, if we do, the charge would be child neglect," he said.