PITTSBURG, Calif. - Pittsburg police on Friday arrested a 24-year-old woman in connection with the theft and kidnapping of an SUV with a 1-year-old girl inside.
Police said that just after midnight a resident saw a woman who matched the description of the alleged child abductor walking on Harbor Street.
Officers met up with her, identified as Nataly Ayala, 24, and determined she had taken a man's Chevrolet Tahoe about 6 p.m. on Thursday and then took off with the vehicle. The man's 1-year-old daughter inside.
"It was a living nightmare," the girl's mother Aracely Cisneros-Paez told KTVU. "Just thankful that she's safe with us now."
She had harsh words for the suspect.
"I'm speechless," she said. "There's nothing that I could say to her. I'm very angry and upset towards her, and I just don't understand why."
Ayala, who declined a jailhouse interview on Friday, was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility and police will recommend appropriate charges to the District Attorney, they said. She was being held on $100,000 bail.
Ayala's alleged actions touched off a frantic search Thursday evening for about 90 harrowing minutes. An Amber Alert was issued by the CHP to find the baby.
Initially, it was thought the carjacking happened in front of La Pinata restaurant on Bliss Avenue. The father, outside of the Tahoe, was talking with another man when they were accosted by a woman asking for a cigarette. Moments later, she allegedly stole the car. But surveillance video appears to show the auto theft happened in front of a nearby auto body shop. The video shows a man running after a speeding SUV.
Police say the woman was a blonde, in her early 30s with a tattoo on the left side of her face.
At about 7:30 p.m., the SUV was found a half-mile away in the parking lot of an apartment complex along Leland Lane with the girl safely inside.
Also Thursday night, a 4-month-old girl was kidnapped when someone stole a Honda Odyssey minivan she was in, from a shopping center at Ygnacio Valley Road and Clayton Road in Concord.
The vehicle was found abandoned with the baby still inside. The suspect was gone.
Concord police Cpl. David Petty said his department was aware of the case in Pittsburg.
"While it's very similar, we're not going to confirm any speculation on it. We are pursuing all investigative leads," Petty said.