Car theft leaves 3-year-old alone in parking lot for 5 hours

The search for a missing toddler in New Mexico ended happily over the weekend after a police officer found the little girl, cold and alone, in an empty parking lot. Caraline Leon-Alcocar went missing after the car she was siting in was stolen out of a Smith's store parking lot Saturday evening. While the vehicle was quickly found, Caraline wasn't. Albuquerque police issued an Amber Alert and quickly began searching for the missing 3-year-old.

Officer Chris Poccia found the toddler sitting alone in an empty parking lot five hours later. Poccia was sweeping closed local businesses with his spotlight when the girl's purple coat caught his eye. Press liaison officer Simon Drobik told KOAT 7 that the girl was a small spec in a sea of dark concrete.

"Due to the temperature and the time, when I first saw it, I was afraid that it was going to be a tragic scene, and thankfully it wasn't," Poccia told the news station. He scooped the little girl up and put her in his squad car to warm up. Searchers arrived shortly afterwards to help. Poccia refused to accept any praise for finding the girl, saying everyone in the search team deserves the credit. Finding the girl brought Poccia, a long-time officer and Marine veteran, to tears.

"I'll be honest, on my way home I started crying, too. I was just very happy and thankful that we were able to find her," Poccia said. Caraline received a check up at a local hospital where she was deemed perfectly healthy. Now, Poccia is now focused on finding the perpetrator who left Caraline alone in that cold, deserted parking lot.

"I can't even imagine what the animal who did this was thinking," Poccia told reporters. Police are looking for the car thief that left little Caraline in the dark. Police have grainy footage of the man they believe is responsible for stealing the car. They describe the man as 25 to 30 years old and about 5 feet, 11 inches to 6 feet tall.

"This guy is a real scumbag for doing that," Drobik told reporters. "How dare you? I'm telling this individual direct, how dare you do this?"

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