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Man Suspected of Stealing Vehicle with 5-year-old Girl Inside 2019

A 5-year-old Las Cruces girl is safe and back home with her parents now, but her fate was unknown for about an hour Thursday morning after the vehicle she was left in was stolen from her parents’ home.

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 she returned, her car and 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 toward El Paso. 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 the Chevy Cruze came to a stop on Stern Drive and west Berino Road. The driver, identified by police as 35-year-old Victor Castillo, was taken into custody and the 5-year-old girl was located inside the vehicle. The girl showed no signs of physical injury.

Multiple felony charges against Castillo, of the 9500 block of Alegria Court in unincorporated Dona Ana County, are pending completion of the investigation.

Police remind motorists to refrain from leaving vehicles unattended while warming up. Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle. And, without question, children should never be left unattended in a running vehicle.