Police took 90 minutes to issue Amber Alert

Young girl not believed in imminent danger in stolen vehicle

Toronto Police took 90 minutes to issue an Amber Alert after a 4-year-old girl went missing Friday morning near Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue West.

Four-year-old Christina was found safe after a three-hour search. (Photo courtesy Toronto Police)

At about 6 a.m. Christina Nguyen’s mother buckled her in the car and went inside her house to grab her second child. When she camet back outside the vehicle, along with Christina, was gone from the driveway.

Initially, an Amber Alert was not issued because the intent of the thief was to steal a vehicle, police said.

“If a call that we had been working on had been a little girl had been abducted we would have gotten things rolling a little quicker,” Const. David Hopkinson said.

An Amber Alert must be requested by the police from the Ontario provincial police.

Specific criteria must be met before the alert is issued, Hopkinson said. “You have to have a person under the age of 18 who has been abducted or taken and we believe that there may be imminent harm threatened against them.”

Hopkinson said police did not believe Christina was in in danger.

“We believed that the would-be-thief would realize that [he] had a young person in the car and [he] would dump the car off some place in the area,” he said.

When the police did not find the car within a reasonable time, they then considered the case an abduction.

“From the time the decision was made that this was now an abduction investigation to the time the amber alert was issued was a fairly short period of time,” Hopkinson said.

At about 9:30 a.m. a citizen, who does not want to be identified, found the vehicle five kilometres away from Christina’s home. The car was still running and Christina was in the back seat.

Hopkinson says people should never leave their keys in the car if they are not inside.

“If you’re going to be loading children or even your groceries in the car you should leave your car off,” he said.

Police say the incident is still under investigation and no suspect has been identified.