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Woman who stole car with children inside, tried to cross into Mexico, sentenced to prison

Posted at 1:30 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 21:30:53-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The woman who stole a car with two children inside before driving to the U.S-Mexico border in 2018 has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Police say Leslie Esparanza Saenz, 27, stole a car with an 8-year-old and 3-year-old inside outside a Cricket Wireless store on the 200 block of Euclid Avenue April 9, 2018.

According to police, the children’s father parked the gold Hyundai Excel outside the store and went into the business by himself, leaving the vehicle unlocked.

Moments later, Saenz got into the car and drove off on Imperial Avenue.

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The vehicle was spotted later that afternoon when the Hyundai arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

There, federal agents who had gotten a be-on-the-lookout bulletin regarding the auto theft and kidnapping took the driver - who was later identified as Saenz -- into custody without incident.

Authorities then reunited the children, who had suffered no injuries during the ordeal, with their father and returned his car to him, Roman said.