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A Richmond mother is thanking her lucky stars this morning after her 5-year-old daughter was briefly kidnapped — likely accidentally –during a car theft on Tuesday evening. The theft was reported shortly before 7 p.m. in the 3400 block of Fleetwood Drive, Richmond police Lt. Bisa French said. Malika Senior said she and her husband Adolfo had just taken their 5-year-old daughter Salma to a doctor’s appointment and had stopped back home to use the bathroom.
They had gone inside with their 3-year-old son, briefly leaving Salma sleeping in the backseat of their 1995 Nissan, which was parked outside, she said. Adolfo had the car key in his pocket, she said. She then heard cars outside, and when she went back out the family’s car was gone. Police later told her the thief might have used what they called a “phantom key” to take the car, she said. When Senior saw the car was gone, she felt “just empty,” she said. “I just lost my daughter, it was a horrible feeling,” Senior said. The family called police, who responded within minutes. Police found the car about 15 minutes after it was taken, she said.
French said the car was located in the 3400 block of Grasswood Drive, several blocks from the family’s home. French said the thief “probably realized the child was in the backseat and abandoned it.” Salma Senior was unharmed and still sound asleep in the backseat. The car was processed for evidence and returned to the family, French said. Malika Senior said she was amazed at how quickly the car thief or thieves worked, and said they were likely watching the family as they arrived home.
“It’s a really safe neighborhood — we never had anything like that,” she said. Senior said she is just happy to have her daughter back. Salma was treated to ice cream Tuesday night and got to stay home from school today. “She’ll go back tomorrow,” Senior said.
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