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Charges Filed in Theft of Vehicle with Young Girl Inside 2019

The man suspected in Thursday morning’s theft of a vehicle with a 5-year-old girl in the backseat has been charged with a pair of felonies.

Victor Castillo, 35, of the 9500 block of Alegria Court in unincorporated Dona Ana County, is charged with a third-degree felony count of child abuse and one fourth-degree felony count of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

Shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday, March 14, Las Cruces police learned that a 2017 Chevy Cruze, with the 5-year-old girl in the backseat, was left running near a home on the 1800 block of Thomas Drive. The young girl’s mother went back into her home for a moment. When the woman returned, her car and young daughter were gone.

Police immediately canvassed the area and issued a BOLO – a be on the lookout – alerting all area law enforcement agencies to watch for the stolen vehicle and the young girl.

About 8 a.m. a New Mexico State Police officer spotted the vehicle heading east on I-10. The officer relayed information to other agencies and followed as the vehicle exited I-10 at State Road 404, near Anthony, N.M., and began traveling west on Stern Road. The NMSP officer engaged in a relatively slow-speed pursuit before officers initiated a stop on Stern Drive near west Berino Road. The driver, Castillo, was taken into custody and the 5-year-old girl was found inside the vehicle with no signs of physical injury.

Castillo was also arrested Wednesday, March 13, by Las Cruces police at the CVS pharmacy on north Main Street. Police were called to the store on a shoplifting complaint. Castillo was arrested on two bench warrants for failure to pay fines. He was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center at 5:39 a.m. Wednesday and released on bond about 12 hours later. The car on Thomas Drive, with the young girl inside, was stolen about 7 a.m. the following day. Castillo now faces the additional charge of possession of a stolen vehicle from Wednesday’s incident as investigators connected him to a stolen car found in the CVS parking lot.

Castillo is once again in the detention center where he is currently being held without bond.

Police remind motorists to refrain from leaving vehicles unattended while warming up and children should never be left unattended in a vehicle.