LAS CRUCES, NM (KFOX14) — A 5-year-old Las Cruces girl is safe and back home with her parents now, but her fate was unknown for about an hour Thursday morning after the vehicle she was left in was stolen from her parents’ home, according to the Las Cruces Police Department.
According to Las Cruces police, shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday, Las Cruces police learned that a vehicle with the 5-year-old girl in the backseat was left running near a home on the 1800 block of Thomas Drive. Police said the young girl’s mother went back into her home for a moment and when she returned, her car and daughter were gone.
Police said they immediately canvassed the area and issued a be-on-the-lookout, alerting all area law enforcement agencies to watch for the stolen vehicle and the young girl.
According to a news release, around 8 a.m., a New Mexico State Police officer spotted the vehicle heading east on I-10 toward El Paso. The officer relayed information to other agencies and followed as the vehicle exited I-10 at State Road 404, near Anthony, New Mexico, and began traveling west on Stern Road. The NMSP officer engaged in a relatively slow-speed pursuit before the Chevy Cruze came to a stop on Stern Drive and west Berino Road. The driver, identified by police as 35-year-old Victor Castillo, was taken into custody and the 5-year-old girl was located inside the vehicle. Las Cruces police said the girl showed no signs of physical injury.
Las Cruces police said Castillo was charged with child abuse and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.
Las Cruces police said Castillo had been arrested Wednesday Las Cruces police at the CVS pharmacy on north Main Street as well. Police said they were called to the store on a shoplifting complaint. Castillo was arrested on two bench warrants for failure to pay fines.
Police said Castillo was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center at 5:39 a.m. Wednesday and released on bond about 12 hours later. Castillo now faces the additional charge of possession of a stolen vehicle from Wednesday’s incident as investigators connected him to a stolen car found in the CVS parking lot.
Castillo is once again in the detention center where he is currently being held without bond.