11-Month-Old Stolen With Car Makes Every Mom Think 'That Could Have Happened to Me'

Gabriela Quintero Amber Alert

An Amber Alert issued for baby Gabriela Quintero was one of the first things to pop up in my Facebook feed this morning, capturing my horrified attention because it’s every mother’s worst nightmare: your baby goes missing because of your own split-second, foolish mistake. 

We’ve probably all done it, or something similar ... You’ve got an armload of stuff, you can’t carry it all, so you pop baby in her car seat and run back up to your porch for your diaper bag or laptop or whatever the heck you couldn’t manage in the first trip. That’s exactly what Graciela Quintero, Gabriela’s mama, did this morning outside her home in Palo Alto, California -- only she left her keys in her car’s ignition. In the moment Quintero stepped away from her car to grab the rest of her stuff, a strange woman jumped in the Jeep and drove away with the baby -- who wasn’t even strapped in yet!

But there's good news: The 11-month-old baby who was stolen along with her mom’s car this morning has been found safe and sound after being missing for almost five horrible hours. Can you even begin to imagine her family’s relief?

Quintero’s housemate says he was just about to get up for work when he heard Qunitero “screaming hysterically.” That poor woman! What an absolute nightmare, to watch a stranger drive away with your baby. I can still remember my utter panic when I accidentally locked my several-month-old baby in the car one summer morning -- and she was right in front of me, CLEARLY not going anywhere! Since I had also locked my cellphone in the car, I practically mauled a woman who happened to be passing by, screeching like a lunatic that I needed her phone. It seems laughable in the face of something like this that I would have been so upset about that -- but so much of being a parent (especially a new one) is worrying that you’re going to do something terribly wrong!

In the case of baby Gabriela, authorities couldn’t be sure if the car thief also meant to be a kidnapper, but until both the baby and the car turned up just six miles away from where they were stolen this morning, the case was being treated a “stranger abduction.” A woman who spotted the SUV after seeing the Amber Alert called 9-1-1 -- isn’t that amazing?! Just goes to show that those alerts really can work, and we should ALWAYS share them when we come across them!

This must have been the longest -- and then the happiest -- day of Quintero’s life. I know she’ll be extra grateful this Friday when she celebrates baby Gabriela’s first birthday, and I hope she knows that we ALL make mistakes. Luckily, very often our mistakes don’t have any real consequences, and I’m SO HAPPY for the Quintero family’s happy ending.

Have you ever done something similar to what Gabriela’s mom did this morning?

Image via abc7newsBayArea/Twitter

in the news, safety, crime


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Dania Bruce

Well I usually get everything I need into the car first!!!

nonmember avatar Ashley

Oh god how horrible. I live in the country with only family as neighbors, but I still take everything I need to my car first while my son plays in his room

Nicole Wetzold Daw

Hey Dania - that means that you're leaving your baby alone in the house so don't be so judgy.  I feel terrible for her.


gwane... gwaneesmom

Hum alone in the house verses outside in a vehicle subject to all passerbys. I don't see the comparison. Don't think a stranger will make it to abduct my child from inside my home while I'm in the driveway!

Randi... RandiBear

gwaneesmom, and I'm sure all the parents of the kids who have been abducted from their beds didn't think going to bed that night would be the last time they saw their kids either... It's nobody's fault except the person who did it. We can't watch our kids every second of the day, but we really need to come together as a society and stop beating down people for not hovering over their kids. We have a neurotic society these days...is it any wonder nobody trusts anyone else and everybody is out for their own?

acook... acook0331

Maybe she shouldn't have been so stupid.

Jessica Epperson

Its not like she left her in the car and then sat inside piddling around for thirty minutes. What she did makes total sense and it's not her fault some wacko stole her car

Andre... Andreamom001

For heaven's sake, sticking the baby in the car while you grab an armful of stuff is not a mistake! If she'd left the kid alone in the house to carry the stuff and the kid had, oh, grabbed a detergent pod or stuck her finger in an electric socket, you'd all be blaming her for making THAT "mistake."

The stranger who stole the car is the one who did something wrong, not this baby's mom. The idea that if you are a perfect parent, you can protect your child from all harm is a fallacy. Bad things happen to kids, and quite often the kids had good parents who did nothing wrong. Being a good parent is not a guarantee nothing bad will ever happen to your child.

Let's PLEASE stop blaming parents when something goes wrong.

Ashley Ross

i live in Alaska so I've put my son in car then loaded stuff in while the car was running. this is my worst fear and yes i think about it ever time do it at a store something but at -40° I'm not going make him sit in the cold while i load things in car. sometimes Just makes more since do it...

Nikki Frazer

That poor woman! I too have left both my boys in the car while I run into the house quickly to grab something, but I live in a quiet small town, and it's not often we have crimes commited, especially during the day (although it is starting to get worse) but I am surrounded by people, so again chances are lessened.

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