TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Sierra Vista Police Department arrested a North Carolina man for vehicle theft and kidnapping on Wednesday night, after they say he stole a vehicle from a local gas station with two children were inside.
SVPD officers responded to the Speedway convenience store, located at 1497 E. Fry Blvd., at about 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26 for a report of a stolen vehicle with two children inside.
Officials say a woman went inside the store to make a quick purchase and had left her vehicle running with her two children waiting inside. North Carolina resident, 43-year-old Joel Harnage, was waiting outside the store for such an opportunity and took the car according to police.
SVPD put out a notice to surrounding agencies and the vehicle was located at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Highway 90, north of Sierra Vista, less than 20 minutes after it was reported stolen. When SVPD officers made contact with Harnage, they say he stated he had been watching convenience stores for an opportunity to steal a car so he could drive back to North Carolina.
“It is not uncommon for a criminal to observe a location in search of an easy target and act when given the opportunity,” SVPD Public Information Officer Cpl. Scott Borgstadt says. “We are grateful the children are safe and greatly appreciate the aid of our law enforcement partners who helped search for the vehicle, especially the U.S. Border Patrol agents who identified it at the checkpoint.”
SVPD officers arrested Harnage and charged him with one count of theft of means of transportation and two counts of each of kidnapping, endangerment, and custodial interference.
He is being held in Cochise County Jail on a $50,000 bond.