A three-year-old was found unharmed and buckled into a car seat in the back of an abandoned vehicle after it was stolen from outside a home in Hudson's Hope Thursday.
In what's being called crime of opportunity, police believe a would-be thief jumped into an unattended vehicle and drove off, only to realize there was a child in the back seat.
Police believe the vehicle was stolen around 12:50 p.m. By 1:15 the vehicle was discovered in an alley behind a nearby gas station. The child was reportedly "in good spirits."
"Our interpretation is this was a crime of opportunity," said North District RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman. "Somebody sees this vehicle running, or maybe sees the person step out of it, the door's open, they jump in it and they're gone."
"Then they realize there's a child in there and they say 'oops,'" he added. Police believe the suspect ditched the vehicle and ran off.
Tyreman said police were still trying to track down a suspect. He did not have any update on the investigation as of Sunday morning. Police moved to activate an Amber Alert, while municipal workers set up a perimeter around the town before the vehicle was discovered.
Police are not saying whether the child is a boy or a girl, or identifying the make of the vehicle, because they believe that would make it easier to identify the victim.
"For this guardian, this has to be a life changing episode," said Tyreman. "They take their eyes off the child for one second and next thing they know the vehicle is heading down the street. We don't want to revictimize that individual or have them shunned in the community."
He added that additional details might be released if the investigation stalls.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers or the Hudson's Hope RCMP at 250-783-5241.