Remorseful thief returns stolen van after finding toddler in backseat

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SALT LAKE CITY – A carjacker with a heart didn’t make it very far from a Utah home before she turned a stolen van around and returned to its owner precious cargo that was in the backseat.

Police in Salt Lake City said Idaly Proano, 22, hopped into what she thought was an empty van parked and running outside a home in the 500 block of South Concord Street Sunday morning, PIX11 sister station FOX13 reports.

She drove a few miles away before she realized who was sitting in the back seat: 3-year-old Maya.

The toddler’s mother, Isabella Ortega, said she left the girl in the van while she returned to her house to make sure the front door was locked.

“I turn around and my car is running and I say, ‘My baby, my baby is in there,’” Ortega said.

When she saw Maya contently riding along in the backseat, Proano went back to the scene of the crime, police said.

“Our suspect felt remorse, turned around, came back to the home where she stole the van, got out knocked on the front door and asked if she could wait inside for police, basically turning herself in,” Lt. Scott White said.

Proano faces charges of stealing property and drug possession, police said.

As for little Maya, she seem unfazed by the entire ordeal.

“I asked her, ‘Were you scared when she took you?’ and she said, ‘No,’” Ortega recalled. “She has a book and maybe she played with that and doesn’t know who was driving.”

Although this theft had a happy ending, police warned that many do not, using the incident as a reminder to never leave a child alone in a car, even in your own neighborhood.