MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – As part of their series on carjackings, FOX 9 investigators analyzed years of court records, police evidence, carjacking case files and videos in Minneapolis.
In the process, they came across previously unreported carjackings, including a case where, over the course of eight days in the summer of 2020, a man who was on bail after a previous car theft stole two vehicles in Minneapolis with children in the back seat.
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The first incident happened in Dinkytown on June 18, 2020, at the height of the pandemic, and was caught on surveillance cameras.
The video shows Antonio DeLeon, 28, wandering the streets near a Raising Cane restaurant when he approached a white Buick Verano. The driver of the car was inside picking up food with her young daughter still in the car. Police records show her daughter has cerebral palsy and can’t walk, so she left her in the car looking like she was running.
In the video, DeLeon appears to notice the car running, then takes off with the child still inside.
A few blocks away, DeLeon pulled over and threw the girl onto the sidewalk, where she struggled to crawl to a passerby for help. After seven minutes, the mother found her daughter unharmed.
Court records show that eight days later, on June 26, DeLeon committed another carjacking in Dinkytown that also involved a child in the back seat.
According to the criminal complaint, a man left his Mazda running outside a store on the 300 block of Southeast 14th Avenue and ran to retrieve items, with his wife and their eight-month-old child in the car.
DeLeon jumped into the driver’s seat and the man ran out of the store to try to stop him, according to the complaint. As the two struggled, the man fell and was dragged a short distance by the car, sustaining injuries that would require brain surgery to stop internal bleeding.
The woman was still in the car and begged DeLeon to let her and her child go. He dropped them off a few blocks away, the complaint states.
DeLeon was arrested in September 2020 and entered into a plea deal with prosecutors covering both cases, pleading guilty to robbery and first-degree robbery. He is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Stillwater prison.
DeLeon’s two carjacking cases involving children in the vehicle, including the one depicted in the video, reflect a troubling pattern.
When carjackings and car thefts soared in the Twin Cities and other cities across the country during the pandemic, the victims were often people who left their cars running, such as delivery drivers, or parents with children in the back who were briefly driving away from their vehicles. .
Last November, a 7-year-old boy was in the car with his mother while she made food deliveries in Minneapolis. When the mother got out of the moving car to make a delivery, a man got into the car and drove off. Police then recovered the vehicle and arrested the suspect.
There was a similar incident involving a DoorDash driver in San Francisco in February 2020, and more recently a case in Philadelphia in March in which an 18-year-old man was arrested for stealing a van from a delivery driver while the driver’s girlfriend and their three children were in the back.
Not all incidents involve delivery drivers. On Jan. 7, authorities issued an Amber Alert when an SUV left running outside a cellphone repair store was stolen in Minneapolis with a one-year-old boy in the backseat. The child was returned to his family unharmed and police discovered the missing vehicle about a mile from where it was originally stolen.