Wichita police issue safety reminder for parents following weekend abduction call

The warning comes after a 6-year-old girl was abducted while inside a running vehicle that was stolen from a Wichita parking lot.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:34 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A 6-year-old girl is back with her family following an abduction call Sunday when a thief stole a running car in which she was in. Monday, police identified the man who stole the vehicle and later was arrested in Oklahoma as 34-year-old Benjamin Brady. The situation prompted police to issue a safety reminder for parents when it comes to leaving children alone in vehicles.

Police said this a little before 7 p.m. Sunday, WPD officers responded to the 2300 block of North Amidon for an auto theft/kidnapping in the parking lot of a liquor store. Officers contacted a man who reported that while he’d gone into the store, an unknown man stole his vehicle with his 6-year-old daughter still inside.

About an hour later, members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) stopped the vehicle about 22 miles south of the Kansas/Oklahoma line. The OHP arrested Brady and booked him into the Kay County Jail. Next steps include extraditing him back to Kansas.

The girl returned to Wichita where she reunited with family after detectives from the Exploited and Missing Child Unit interviewed her, police said.

While understanding where parents come from in situations that seem safe, 12 News Personal Protection Expert Joe Schillaci said it’s not worth the risk to leave you children in the car while it’s running while you run a quick errand.

“It’s easy for us as parents, like me, to say, ‘I want my child to be warm, I want her to be comfortable,” Schillaci said.

But, he warns, “if you give a criminal that opportunity, he or she is going to take it.”

“It only takes second for somebody to jump into the car and be gone with your child, and as soon as that happens, anything, and I mean anything can happen,” Schillaci said.

Schillaci demonstrated the speed at which something like what took place Sunday night in the north Wichita liquor store parking lot can happen. After a thief notices a car is running, they can be inside and driving off in a matter of seconds, regardless of whether they know a child is inside.

“I would say it’s extremely rare that the actual intent to do an auto theft of a running vehicle is to kidnap someone in the vehicle, but we do know that cars that are left running are more prone to be stolen,” said Wichita Police Department Captain Jason Cooley.

Cooley said what is unusual about the case over the weekend is that it crossed state lines.

“Typically, when these situations occur, we find the child somewhere on the side of the road, still equally as dangerous,” he said.

The WPD and Schillaci say it’s best not to risk this at all.

“Take your child with you, lock and secure your car,” Schillaci said. “You know that your child is with you and safe.”

Wichita police say they are looking into Brady stopping at another liquor store before he was arrested in Oklahoma. The OHP found an open container in the stolen car. Those involved with the investigation are working to determine if the case will be tried on the state or federal level since it crossed state lines.