3-year-old safe after taken for ride by car thief

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A three-year-old girl left inside a car at a BP gas station is safe after a car thief took her for a ride Friday morning.

Police said while 3-year-old Maya's mother was inside paying for gas, at least one man jumped in the car and drove off with Maya strapped in her car seat. Police said at least one other accomplice sped away at the same time.

The incident happened around 8 a.m. near 78th and Parallel in Kansas City, Kan. FOX 4's Rob Collins spoke with the victim's grandmother shortly after. She described what her daughter told her.

"She said she looked out and two guys were jumping in the car and they took off and she tried to chase after them," she said.

Police said at the suspect suspects ditched the car just a couple blocks away -- likely after realizing three-year-old Maya was inside. Police said the suspects got into another car and left the area. A man who saw what happened spoke with FOX 4.

"I knew I had to do something," Jerome Hooks said. He added that he was nervous for the mother. "You should have seen the look on her face. It was horrible. I did all I could."

Hooks followed the suspects for a while.

"I followed them down to the highway, they saw me, they ran the light and got on the highway and left. So I circled back and by the time I got back here a guy from Deffenbaugh had the girl in his arms."

Hooks then returned to the gas station to let Maya's mother know her child was safe.

"She was thanking me and thanking me and thanking me," Hooks said. "She was crying. She wasn't worried about her car. I told her her baby was okay, that was the main thing. She wanted to get to her baby."

Police are looking at surveillance video from the gas station to help them identify the criminals.

If you have any information that can help police in this case, call the TIPS hotline.

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