REDCLIFF, AB – A little girl from Saskatchewan is safe and sound after being found in her parent’s SUV following a multi-province Amber Alert on Sunday.
While the formal investigation into her kidnapping continues, RCMP say the vehicle she was riding in was stolen while left in front of a strip mall in North Battleford.
Plenty of discussion has arisen on social media about running a quick errand, versus always bringing a child inside.
According to Redcliff RCMP, calls of children being left alone in vehicles are quite rare in the area, but have happened on occasion.
While Sunday’s Amber Alert ended happily, S/Sgt. Sean Maxwell said it’s something that no parent should have to endure.
“I don’t know what happened in this particular case,” said Maxwell. “It’s an awful situation, a horrible situation for any parent to have to go through. But, we want to just get the message out to others, that you really need to work on it yourself.”
Police are warning parents that leaving a car unlocked for even a few minutes while running into a store can lead to a crime of opportunity.
Even if it adds a few minutes to your trip, RCMP say it’s important to take your child with you rather than leaving them inside the vehicle.
Maxwell said most criminals stealing vehicles don’t take account of what’s in the vehicle beforehand, whether that’s a laptop in a bag or a child strapped into a car seat.
He added developing a habit of bringing a child out of the car when parked can go a long way to preventing a potentially tragic situation.
“People do not realize how things can happen and how quickly things can happen,” he said. “People are creatures of habit. If you habitually turn your vehicle off, take the keys with you and bring your kids with you, you’re going to do that the vast majority of the time.”
There is no formal law in Canada relating to children being left in vehicles, but negligence and failure to provide the necessaries of care in a child are possible in the most extreme cases.
Children’s Services have also been called in rare instances and in a statement, they also discourage children from being left inside a vehicle alone.
“A child left alone in a vehicle for even a short time is at risk of weather, medical distress, crime or even accidentally putting the vehicle in motion. While Alberta does not have legislation stipulating exactly when children can and cannot be left alone, we strongly discourage ever leaving a child in a vehicle unattended. If anyone has concerns about the safety and well-being of an unattended child, they should contact their local Children’s Services office (through 310-0000), the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-387-KIDS, or if the child is in imminent danger, call 911. Each situation reported to Children’s Services is assessed to determine whether further involvement is needed.”
In most situations however, Maxwell said there’s no wilful neglect and most parents are simply looking to save a few minutes.
However as evidenced in Saskatchewan this week, he added it’s a scenario that can change in a matter of moments.
“Try to develop that habit where you’re bringing your kids with you,” he said. “It can be a difficult thing. I’m a parent, I know exactly what people went through, I have twins... We feel for parents, we understand, but we have a job to do and we would prefer that parents just take the time, plan ahead.”
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