MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Modesto woman is behind bars after she tried to kidnap a child she claimed was her own, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office said they first got the call on Monday afternoon.
“A homeowner in an argument with an unknown female who was later identified as Crystal Melena,” said Sgt. Erich Layton. “Melena believed that the child that was playing in the front yard was actually hers.”
Authorities said Melena was not able to get into physical contact with the 3-year-old girl.
“Luckily, family members were present and they prevented Melena from taking her,” Layton told FOX40.
But the sheriff’s office said the 32-year-old suspect did not leave without first giving the family an unsettling warning.
“Prior to deputies arriving, said she would be back to get the child who she believed was hers,” Layton said.
The sheriff’s office said the girl’s family was able to give them important information that would help them track down the suspect.
“Due to the family getting a license plate to the vehicle, as well as an accurate description of the vehicle Melena was driving, we were able to locate that approximately 35 mins later,” Layton said.
And while the outcome of the incident could have been a lot worse, the sheriff’s office credits the family for what they did.
“They stepped in between, pulled the child backward, so their vigilance and quick actions are really what prevented her from being abducted,” Layton said.
Authorities want to remind parents and families to always have eyes on their children.
Melena was arrested on suspicion of attempted kidnapping, the sheriff’s office said.