A San Francisco couple was praising police and the resident of their new home town after their two young children were taken during a car theft Tuesday night.
McKay and Stephanie Thomas were back together Wednesday with 3 year old daughter Harper and one year old son Leandro.
They moved here from Utah about six months ago.
The children were sleeping in the back of the family car while it was parked in the city's Mission District Tuesday evening. While the parents stood outside “a few paces” from their vehicle talking to a cousin, a woman jumped into the car and took off. The car was parked but the engine was running.
“I just said, ‘That's our car!’” said Stephanie Thomas, “and it started barreling toward us.”
McKay says he tried to stop the vehicle.
“I was waving my hands, stop, stop! she just kept accelerating. I got hit by the car. I was kind of thrown onto the hood and rolled off onto the road,” said McKay Thomas, who was not injured.
Stephanie told KTVU that she was frantic.
“I was freaking out yelling, my kids, my kids are in the car,” said Stephanie Thomas.
McKay says another driver witnessed the theft and stopped to give him a ride to try to pursue the vehicle, but he says they lost the car in traffic.
“It was hard to stop looking,” said McKay, “Because there's a moment where you have to come to terms with the fact that you're powerless, you have nothing more that you can do.”
McKay says he called 911 and the dispatcher told him to stop searching for the car and talk to responding officers so they could put out a bulletin.
Police swarmed the neighborhood searching for the car and two missing children.
McKay says about 30 minutes later police told him the car was found parked on Sweeney Street in the City's Portola District with the two children inside, unharmed, but the car thief was gone.
The Thomas’s say if this crime had happened in a rural area, they may not have seen the overwhelming response that helped bring the ordeal to an end so quickly.
“Within a few minutes we literally had thousands of people on alert,” said McKay.
“That speaks to what this city is capable of. We can come together when we need to and we did. within 30 minutes we had our family found and within an hour we were reunited with our kids.”
Stephanie says the ordeal has made her appreciate her new home in San Francisco even more.
“I love San Francisco. We have felt so at home here so quickly,” said Stephanie. “In fact we want to settle in the Bay Area and stay forever.”
Police say the suspect was described as a white woman with burgundy hair.
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