LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Although the pickup was recovered, Lufkin Police officers are still searching for the man who stole a pickup with a 6-year-old girl in the back seat late Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after the theft, the child was released, unhurt, in Hudson.
According to Detective J.B. Smith, a spokesman for the Lufkin Police Department, the suspect stole a maroon 2010 Toyota Tundra from the Kid Kountry Day Care located at 2505 West Frank Avenue at approximately 5:26 p.m. Tuesday. The 6-year-old girl was in its back seat.
The vehicle's owner told police that she had left the engine running and her daughter in the back seat while she went inside to get her other daughter. When the woman came out of the day care, she saw the suspect headed west on W. Frank Ave. in her pickup.
Lufkin PD dispatchers quickly notified all area law enforcement agencies and requested assistance in locating the kidnapped girl and the Tundra. Shortly afterward, the suspect released the girl in the parking lot of the Bowers Mobile Park in Hudson.
"I started talking to her and she was terrified," said Pat Wilz, a resident at the mobile home park. "She said that a 'black man brought me here' and I said, 'where did the black man pick you up at?' she said, 'at the daycare.'"
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Wilz called 911, where a search had already started.
"When I called 911, I heard someone say in the background say they had found her so I knew they were already looking for her," Wilz said.
Wilz said she wasn't looking for fame and that she was just being a good citizen.
"I would hope that someone would do that for my child or grandchild if that were to happen to them," Wilz said.
Angelina County Sheriff's Deputies and Hudson Police Department officers found the stolen pickup in the parking lot of Hudson Green Apartments, located at 840 Mount Carmel Rd.
The suspect is described as a 20- to 25-year-old black man with short hair. At the time of the vehicle theft and kidnapping, the man was wearing a black T-shirt, black shorts, and white and black shorts.
Smith said that although LPD detectives haven't definitively linked the crime to the April 1 theft of a red 2000 Chevrolet pickup, they are investigating that possibility. The Chevy truck was stolen from the parking lot of a doctor's office located in the 1300 block of W. Frank Ave.
The 81-year-old owner of the truck told the investigating officer that he parked the vehicle outside the doctor's office and threw his keys onto the driver's seat before he went into the building. When the man returned to the parking lot about an hour later, the truck was gone.
A witness at the scene told the victim that he saw a block man take the truck. According to the witness, the suspect walked into the parking lot from behind the building and walked to the front door of the doctor's office.
Then the suspect stopped at the door, returned to the parking lot, climbed into the victim's Chevrolet pickup and drove away. The witness said that he had not seen the victim leave the truck and did not know the suspect was stealing it until an hour later when he was approached by the victim.
The suspect in that theft was described as a black man between the ages 20 to 30 years wearing dark pants and dark blue T-shirt with a white emblem on it. The offense report described the suspect's hair as "inch and a half to two Afro-type hair."
"Video captured by a camera mounted outside the front door to the building briefly shows the suspect at the front of the building and a second camera shows the vehicle driving out of the parking lot and onto West Frank Avenue," a press release from the Lufkin Police Department stated.
The video is available here.
According to Smith, the red 2000 Chevrolet pickup has not been recovered yet.
LPD detectives are also investigating the April 2 theft of a gold-colored 1995 Toyota Avalon. That theft occurred in the employee parking lot of the Pilgrim's Pride plant located on W. Frank Ave. The owner of the car said that she had the its ignition key with her.
No description is available for the suspect in that case.
Anyone with information about any of these crimes should contact the Lufkin Police Department. If someone with information wishes to remain anonymous, he or she should call the Lufkin Crime Stoppers hotline at (936) 639-TIPS or leave a tip online at www.LufkinCrimStoppers.com.