LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A 6-year-old Kentucky girl who was snatched from her bicycle by a stranger was found quickly, returned to her family and a suspect was charged with kidnapping thanks to the quick actions of neighbors and police, authorities said.
Those who witnessed the girl being taken from her Louisville neighborhood July 2 swiftly called 911 with a detailed description of the vehicle and a partial license plate number, police spokesperson Beth Ruoff told news outlets.
She said officers responded immediately and saturated the area.
“You just can’t get there fast enough,” said officer Jason Burba, who was among those responding. “Seconds feel like hours. Your only thought is getting there as fast as you can.”
Police found a car matching the description given within 30 minutes and arrested Robby Wildt, 40, who was charged with kidnapping a minor. He has pleaded not guilty.
Neighbor Prentiss Weatherford, who witnessed the child being taken, told WHAS-TV he saw a car come around a corner and park in the middle of the street. He said a man got out and grabbed the girl “by the collar, threw the bike, put her in the passenger seat, and then took off.”
Weatherford said he chased the vehicle and was able to get a partial license plate number.
When officers found the vehicle, body camera video shows Burba opening the passenger’s side door to find the crying girl while Sgt. Joe Keeling places Wildt under arrest.
“I want my daddy!” the little girl cries as Burba carries her from the car.
Stranger abductions are rare, police said.
“Although we do not want the community to be alarmed, this is certainly an educational opportunity for parents to remind their children that ‘stranger danger’ is real. It is important to talk to your kids about any adult who tries to use a ruse to lure them to their vehicles or away from public view,” Ruoff said.