SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Here’s the scene setter: The West Washington Street 7-Eleven in Suffolk, pump four around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. A man parks his car to get gas, goes inside, leaves the car running with his six-year-old daughter in the back seat, and guess what happens? Someone steals the car.
Police said Juwan Allen then drove four miles to Smalley’s Dam Circle and dropped off the 6-year-old unharmed.
“We had citizens who did the right thing,” said Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler. “They thought, ‘this is not right, and I’m going to call the authorities.'”
Allen kept driving about 18 more miles to Franklin.
Suffolk was using a camera near the 7-Eleven for license plate recognition and picked up a signal on the plate in Franklin.
“Like most agencies in Tidewater, we have gone with the Flock Safety License Plate readers,” said Franklin Police Chief Steve Patterson. “The vehicle had entered our city and the license triggered on our Pretlow Street camera.”
Police followed Allen to the 300 block of Edwards Street.
Lawrence Cypress was sitting on his chair on the front porch when Allen got out of the car and then took off running as police approached,
“And the police are telling him to come here, come here, and let me talk to you,” Cypress said. “He then took five steps back on the grass, and then he took off running.”
Allen ran out of sight, but Franklin Police found where to look for him.
“I just know there was information received that he was on Hayden, and they were able to go over there and find him,” Cypress said.
Chandler applauded the cooperation among Suffolk, Franklin, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office and the people who helped.
“The fact we had citizens there working with the police department,” Chandler said, “and the way all these agencies worked together is incredibly important to keep this little girl safe.”
Juwan Allen remains in jail without bond and has been charged with grand larceny (motor vehicle theft), abduction and child endangerment. He remains in jail without bond. He refused 10 On Your Side’s requests for an on-camera interview.