LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Police say a mother in Lakeland left her kids alone in a running car while she went into a gas station to buy food. When she returned, her children were there, but her car was gone.
Lakeland police responded to reports of a carjacking at the Circle K at 1410 N. Florida Ave.
According to an incident report, Julia Bartolo had parked her car in front of the gas station and left her daughter and son inside. She told detectives the car was running, but she thought it was secured. Bartolo was in line to pay when her children ran inside and told her a black male had stolen their vehicle.
Police said the vehicle was later found abandoned in an open field located a couple miles away.
Detectives obtained surveillance video of the incident that shows a black male walking by the vehicle shortly after Bartolo entered the store. In the video, detectives say he walks behind her vehicle as though he’s casing it. He approaches the car, opens the door and gets into the driver’s side. He’s seen pulling the vehicle out of the parking spot and driving toward 10th Street West. Police have not released to the media the video at this time.
The suspect is described as a black male. He was wearing a black hooded Adidas sweatshirt and ripped and washed jeans at the time of the incident.
Anyone with information should call Detective Justin Conatser at 863-834-6954 or via email at Justin.firstname.lastname@example.org. You may receive up to $3,000.00 for information leading to an arrest.