MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A Memphis woman is behind bars after police say she stole a squad car. According to police, Cynthia Stewart took the car when an officer ran after her 12-year-old daughter. The officer violated MPD policy by leaving his car unattended with the keys inside, but many Memphians say the officer did the right thing.
Allen K. Jones saw it all from his front porch Sunday, Jan. 8th. "I just thought she was with the police department, I saw her get out of the car and go that way."
Jones had no idea Stewart was accused of stealing the car from police just a few miles down the road. Stewart was wanted for snatching her 12-year-old daughter from DCS custody. According to police, one officer spotted the pair. The 12-year-old took off so he chased her. That's when police say Stewart stole the car.
Jones says the officer's actions were justified. "He didn't want to take time, he just got out and chased them real quick and he didn't think about somebody would get in there, because no one would have known that the keys were left in the car."
The Memphis Police Department has a three part policy for any unattended car:
- If a car is parked for more than three minutes, the ignition needs to be shut off.
- Keys need to be removed from unattended cars. At no time will the operator leave the ignition keys unattended in the vehicle.
- Lock the car when it is left unoccupied.
The car left unattended and unlocked was a violation, but neighbors are standing by the cop.
Louise Jones says, "That was kind of a hard decision to make, trying to catch someone and leave someone behind to grab his car, but he shouldn't have left his keys in the car. But he was trying to do his job by catching her."
Allen Jones says, "I'm not a judge but what I say is he should not be charged because he went out to go after these people that he thought had done wrong."
Stewart is charged with auto theft.