HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville police say a man left his toddler inside a hot car for an hour while he stole a blender from Walmart.
It happened Monday at the Walmart Supercenter at 11610 South Memorial Parkway, near the intersection with Hobbs Road.
Travis Sasser, 27, is charged with Domestic Violence- Reckless Endangerment and Theft of Property in the case.
According to police, Sasser left his child, who is just under two years old, in a car that was not running.
“We got a 911 call about child in an unattended vehicle and when we arrived, the 911 caller was the guardian of the child and he was also a shoplifting suspect from Walmart,” explained Lt. Michael Johnson, public information officer for the Huntsville Police Department.
Sasser into the store and stole some merchandise, Johnson said. According to Walmart employees, he was in the store approximately an hour.
“On his way out, going out a fire exit, he dropped his keys to his car,” Lt. Johnson said. “The car was left unlocked. He went to put the stolen merchandise in the car and when he shut the door, it locked automatically. He thought he locked the keys inside, but he actually lost the keys running out the door.”
Officers were forced to break the car window to get the little boy out of the vehicle.
“The child had been left in the car intentionally the entire time he was in the store. No air conditioning, the windows were up. All this was over a $259 blender out of the store," Johnson added.
Sasser told officers that his son had only been in the car for a few minutes, but police found out about the actual time span through their investigation.
HPD stressed the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars, especially during the hot summer months. The department has responded to dozens of calls because people have left their child in a hot car this summer. Across the country, there’s been an alarming number of tragic deaths.
“We tell citizens anytime they see an animal or child, especially a small child like this, in a vehicle not running in the middle of the day in this heat, definitely give us a call. Let us check it out. Don’t try to approach anyone about it. We also like to tell parents that there’s no reason to leave your child in a car and expose them to this kind of heat,” Johnson stated.
At Walmart on Wednesday, shoppers were mortified when they heard about what happened.
“I’ve yet to figure out how people go off and leave a human being or a pet in a car. I have children and grandchildren and it’s very disturbing,” one man said. “I just got in my car. The air conditioning is on, but it takes a while to cool down. It’s very unfortunate but when people do it intentionally, there’s no excuse for that. Accidentally, I don’t understand, but intentionally is just unreal.”
According to the Madison County Jail’s archives, Sasser has several prior arrests dating several years and was previously charged with theft.