A Texas mother is breathing a sigh of relief after her 5-year-old son was found safe and sound Sunday after thieves took off with her car.
The boy, Richard Banahene, was fast asleep in the back of his mom’s 2009 Toyota Corolla when it was stolen from a check-cashing business in southwest Houston earlier that morning, according to the Houston Chronicle.
It was a good Samaritan who was aware of the AMBER Alert and spotted the child wandering near the abandoned car by early Sunday afternoon.
“He looked worried,” Carlos Marquez recalled. “I told him, ‘Get inside the car. I’m going to get you some help.’”
Young Richard and his mom, 33-year-old Ritah Namusubo, were reunited soon thereafter; she ran to embrace her son as he sat in the back of a police car.
Namusubo had just wrapped up a 12-hour shift at work when she stopped into the check-cashing business just after 7:30 a.m., the paper reported. Her son was sleeping, and she said she kept the car running because it was cold.
“I didn’t want to turn the heat off,” Namusubo explained.
While she was inside the store, surveillance video shows a GMC Yukon pull up beside her vehicle. A passenger gets out and quickly slides into her car before speeding off.
“I’m not worried about the car — I just want him,” she said at the time. “Have some mercy and drop him off.”
After about a five-hour search, police were notified by Marquez about the stolen vehicle when he spotted it about a half a mile from the check-cashing place. The thieves had abandoned it.
Many online were happy to hear that little Richard had been found safe but chided his mother for her “carelessness.”
“Thank God he was found safe! Now the parent need to understand FULLY they CANNOT leave their child in an unintended vehicle,” one critic wrote.
“So glad was found,” another added. “Thank you.”
“I’m so happy to hear this!” someone else commented.
Marquez was just as thrilled to be of service in helping locate the missing boy. He told Houston’s ABC 13 he never would’ve expected to be the one to find Richard after authorities issued the AMBER Alert Sunday.
“Just, something told me to look to the right as I was passing by,” Marquez explained, noting that his knowledge of cars helped him to spot the ’09 Corolla. “This was a miracle … I feel like a hero.”
Houston authorities said they’re still searching for the suspected carjacker and his accomplice.