A Philadelphia mother has reported a terrifying ordeal June 2, in which a repo man towed her car while her 7-year-old daughter was sleeping in the backseat, in what police are calling an accidental abduction.
"This tow truck driver just thinks he has a car on the hook," Philadelphia police chief Inspector Scott Small told WCAU. "But what he doesn't realize is that he has a car and a 7-year-old in that vehicle, which makes it a whole different scenario."
Carmino Giannone, the repo man who said he made an "honest mistake" and did not see the child when he checked the minivan to make sure it was empty, had all the necessary paperwork to take the 26-year-old mom's car.
"Everybody on the block started chasing after me, so to avoid a hostile situation I went around the corner," Giannone said.
But when a bike officer tracked him down and told him there was a child in the car, he said he thought it was "B.S." Neither of them saw the child, but a second officer searched shortly after and saw the girl's leg.
"When they went inside the minivan that was being towed, they did find a 7-year-old female," Small told WCAU. "She was still asleep under a blanket in the back seat. She was fine. … It doesn't appear to be an intentional abduction. It appears to be just a mistake."
Though the mother was reunited with her daughter shortly after, the error did cause a frightening situation when she saw the tow truck dragging her vehicle away. It was around 2:30 a.m., when the woman said she stopped into her work at Domino's Pizza for approximately five minutes.
She and people nearby started screaming when they saw her van getting towed.
"We see that all the time, where people try to, as a deterrent, try to get me to stop," Giannone said, according to WPVI. "'Oh, let me check the car,' you know what I mean? Obviously, I am going to get out of the danger zone before I check that."
Police said that the girl should have been strapped into a seat, notes WCAU. Though neither the mother nor Giannone have been charged, Special Victims is investigating due to the girl's age.
"If it's deemed that the mother leaving the child in the car was in some way negligent or posed a danger to the child, the appropriate charge would be endangering the welfare of a child," Philadelphia police captain Sekou Kinebrew said.