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Baby Left in Jeep That Is Stolen Is Returned to Dad

Vehicle, with the tot aboard, is found in Oxnard. The thief remains at large.

June 20, 2003|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

A 1-year-old boy was safely returned to his panicked father Thursday after the Jeep Cherokee in which the tot was riding was stolen from a Ventura strip mall and abandoned a short time later in Oxnard.

Ventura police said Michael Tushla, 36, a Santa Paula physician, left his Jeep running with his young son, Connor, in the back seat while he went into a pizza parlor on Seaward Avenue just after 4 p.m.

The vehicle and the boy were missing when Tushla returned a few minutes later, Sgt. Sean Conroy said. As police were preparing to broadcast an Amber alert, they received word from Tushla's wife that someone had left a phone message at their Santa Paula home saying where the Jeep could be found.

Connor was found safely inside the vehicle outside a doughnut shop on Victoria Avenue in Oxnard, Conroy said. Father and son were reunited within an hour, he said.

The perpetrator, who is at large, could face kidnapping charges, Conroy said.

"This is the kind of call you dread as a police officer. Fortunately, this person had a conscience."

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