Mom Robs Bank With Toddler But That's Not Worst of It


minivanA mother named Cherilyn Jannette Lopez is in trouble this week for allegedly taking her 3-year-old son along when she went to rob a Florida bank to get the cash to support her prescription drug habit. She left her minivan running with the little boy in his car seat when she went in to hit up the teller window. Go ahead and congratulate yourself for being a better parent. You know that's what's going through your mind anyway. But don't kid yourself, her story isn't that unusual.

Sure, the average American parent doesn't pop pills (let's hope not). And considering there were just 1,081 bank robberies in the first quarter of the year (per the FBI), it's safe to say most parents don't fund the huge expense of raising kids with ill-gotten gains. But when is the last time you left your kid in a car? Because it takes just a minute to go mail that letter/grab that carton of milk/get a cup of coffee to keep you going?

You're not a bank robber. But the fact is, the worst thing that Cherilyn Lopez did to her son wasn't taking him along on a bank robbery. He's 3. He probably won't remember it. But leaving him alone in a car with the engine running is a recipe for disaster.

On the one hand, you might as well be asking a carjacker to come along and steal your car ... and your kid. There's no need for a would-be criminal to bother with the silly time-intensive hotwiring. The keys are RIGHT there. Bid your baby goodbye.

And that's the good option, frankly. A carjacker is an adult who can navigate a car. You can hope that they'll drive carefully enough that your child is protected because they need that vehicle in good shape to get their money's worth.

On the other hand, picture this: a 3-year-old knows how to get out of his car seat, which Lopez' son proved when he climbed out of the restraint, then climbed out of the car and headed INTO the bank she was robbing. But a 3-year-old is unpredictable. Your chances are just as good that he'll climb into the front seat and play at driving. Only with the keys in the ignition, his playing can turn into "real" driving pretty darn fast. And suddenly those stories you hear on the news about the toddler who took the family car for a joyride are making sense, huh? Especially the ones about the kid who crashed into a tree, a house ... a bank?

Have you ever left your child in the car? Do you think the mom deserves a neglect charge for leaving her boy behind when she went into the bank?


Image via dave_7/Flickr

crime, cars


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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

One technical point. There are plenty of cars that you can leave running without leaving the keys in the car. I can leave my car running so the AC is on but take the keys with me so you can't drive off. My keys never leave my pocket so it's very easy to leave the car running while I jump out to put a letter in the mailbox or I step outside the car to use the so-called drive-thru ATM that's sized for Amazonians in big rigs. I'm never more than a few feet from the car and I can see him the whole time.

I think the worst crime is not securing him properly. A three year old should not be able to get out of a seat, no way. My son is almost six and he still can't open his crotch buckle by himself. If this kid managed to get loose then she's either not buckling him in properly or she's driving around with him in a crappy seat.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

If your six year old can't undo the crotch buckle on his seat, I would be concerned about his dexterity or muscle strength.  My kids both rode in Britax seats and had the buckles figured out by the time they were 3.

In regards to the post, yeah, she should be jacked up for neglect.  The only place my kids are ever alone in the car is in my garage, when I send them out to get into their seats while I get my butt out the door  - and the keys are with me.  There's no excuse for leaving them while you "run in" to anywhere, because you never know what's going to happen.  We had a situation here years ago where a mom left her napping toddler in the car at the gas pump while she went in to pay, and she had a seizure in the store.  She was unconscious and already en route to the hospital via ambulance when a cop noticed the kid in the car - nearly an hour had passed.  Luckily in was October in New England, so extreme hot or cold wasn't an issue - but that child could have died.

nonmember avatar Anon

Yes she should be charged with neglect but considering bank robbery is a federal crime, that will be the thing that gets her very serious prison time.

starl... starlight1968

I never ever ever left my dd's in the car/car seat by themselves.  If I couldn't take/do something then I waited till there was an opportune time or my husband did it.  There is NO EXCUSE EVER to leave your child unattended in a vehicle to me NONE.  I drove a van and managed to use an ATM, got gas or again dh did etc. No excuses, you wanted to be a mom so take care of your kiddo(s) responsible as anything can go wrong in a SECOND...

nonmember avatar Helena

Yeh not to sound holier-than-thou but I really don't EVER leave my dd in the car, no not even to grab a coffee. If I'm going into 7-11, she's getting out of the seat and going in with me. No exceptions. If she's sleeping guess what? I don't go in, I'll go later or drive-thru Dairy Barn. My best friend and I tend to do errands together so that if one person has a lot of running in and out of stores, or robbing banks to do - the other can stay in the car with the babies. Planning.


No. I never once left my kids in a running car. I'm way too much of a "what if" person. I imagine every worse possible scenario. Yes. I feel anyone who leaves a child in a running car, keys in it or not, should be charged with neglect. Too many things "could" happen. Someone could steal your car. It could stop running and either the heat or a/c won't be on. Any number of things.

"What if?"

Sara Haxton

Yes, I have left my kids in the car, to return a cart, to throw the milk in the fridge, to pee really fast with both the front door and the bathroom door open(sorry mailman you saw more of me that day than you wanted to), to grab the cooler we walked out the door without, to pull money from the ATM 20 ft away.  But I have left them for no more than 30-60 seconds. I use the common sense that GOD gave me.  There are times when it is OK to leave the kids in the car alone, and there are times when it is not.  Use your brain and think about it.

melan... melanniek

@Rhonda- I find it funny that after disagreeing with you on a previous article, I now have to agree here.  I stated earlier that making a blanket decision about parenting practices is ridiculous, but I now have to eat my words.  You NEVER leave a child in a car unattended.  That is a blanket statement.  There are many "free range" parenting topics I adhere to, but leaving your kid in a running 1,000 lb. machine doesn't fall into that category.  I believe you stated the decisions parents make are based on "ignorance".  Again, I have to agree, your ignorance is showing.

ashjoy ashjoy

I have to admit I leave my dd in the car when I run in to pay at the gas station. I pull the car up to the front of the store (where I can see the car through the windows), and get out (with the keys) and lock the doors. I then use my remote start so that the ac runs for her. I hate doing it, but when I'm on my way to work it really is the best option. She's only 8 months and not mobile yet, so she can't get out of her seat.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

Given that the reason she left her child in the car was to rob a bank (which is a federal crime), I think a charge of neglect is the least of her problems.

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