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Man steals car then abandons vehicle with 2-year-old in backseat

An unidentified man who stole a Kia Sorento carrying a 2-year-old girl in the backseat abandoned the car shortly after jumping in the vehicle in the unincorporated town of Spring Valley.

The theft happened just before 6 p.m. on Monday at the Spring Valley Shopping Center, located about 12 miles northeast of San Diego.

The electric sport utility vehicle owner left his daughter inside the parked car while he ran an errand, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

That’s when the car thief jumped inside the vehicle and sped away, heading south, according to authorities.

The SUV suddenly stopped at the intersection of Sweetwater Road and Jamacha Road, a half-mile from the scene of the crime, as the vehicle's owner was calling the police.

Witnesses saw the man flee the vehicle, while leaving the girl unharmed in her carseat, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Lane.

The 2-year-old was quickly reunited with her parents.

Read more: Man arrested in theft of car with 4-year-old boy inside in Long Beach, triggering Amber Alert

“We’re not sure what led the man to stop,” Lane said. “Maybe it was the sight of the girl in the backseat or perhaps it was other reasons.”

The man sped off without the vehicle’s key fob, according to Lane, which may have also caused the car to shut off.

When deputies arrived at the scene, the vehicle’s engine was off, Lane said.

The Sheriff’s Department conducted a manhunt in the surrounding area but did not find the suspect. Lane said the incident is being investigated as a kidnapping and auto theft as sheriff's investigators continue the search.

According to Lane, the suspect is not believed to be armed.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.