MONTEBELLO, Calif. - A search was underway today for a man who kidnapped a year-old boy from a recycling center, although the infant later turned up unharmed.
Caleb Castro and his two sisters, ages 4 and 6, were in a red Honda Odyssey parked at SA Recycling at 1545 Gage Road when a man ordered the two girls out Thursday afternoon and drove away with the boy still inside, according to Montebello police.
The children's mother, intending to recycle some items, had left the keys in the vehicle and stepped about 10 feet from the minivan, police said.
"The mother screamed that her baby was in the car," a police statement said, adding that the man nonetheless drove the vehicle out of the parking lot and southbound on Gage Road.
An Amber Alert was issued, and someone reported just before 7 p.m. Thursday that the van was parked in the rear of a McDonald's parking lot at 9333 W. Slauson Ave. in Pico Rivera, according to Montebello police.
Police found the minivan with Caleb inside and reunited the boy with his mother, said Montebello Police Capt. Luis Lopez. The boy appeared unharmed but was taken to a local hospital to be examined, police said.
The Spanish-speaking suspect was described as Hispanic, about 30 years old, with spiked hair. He remains at large.
Video surveillance from the parking lot where the minivan was found showed the vehicle arrive just after 3 p.m. Thursday. The suspect can be seen getting out of the Honda alone after it is parked and leaving the area in a different vehicle, police said. A description of the second vehicle was not immediately available.
Outside the hospital where the boy was examined, the child's relieved mother, Maria Castro, told reporters she feels blessed that Caleb was not harmed.
"I just say thanks to him that he left the baby OK and he didn't do anything to him," she said of the kidnapper.
Holding her baby in her arms as she spoke, Castro said she had erred in leaving the keys in the vehicle with her kids inside but asked that people refrain from judging her.
"We all make mistakes in different ways," she said.