Parents say man stole SUV with young children inside

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Someone jumped into a family’s SUV and took off with two kids in the back on Sunday afternoon.

The incident happened in a parking lot on North Graham Street. The couple had picked up supplies for their business and were just 10 feet from their SUV when someone stole it.  

Lonnie Johnson said a man he had met minutes earlier stole his white dodge Durango with his 1-year-old and 4-year-old children inside.  

“Didn't distract at all. Charismatic, conversing, ‘How's your day going?’ Can I come in here and purchase items?’” Johnson said.

Johnson said while he was getting the final load of supplies, the man hopped in the driver's seat of the SUV and took off down North Graham Street.  He and his wife jumped into a friend’s car and chased the SUV across the heart of uptown Charlotte, reaching speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour.  Johnson called 911 during the chase.  His wife could barely speak as they raced to keep up with the white Durango. 

“I was laying in the back seat, crying, crying, pulling my hair, my shirt, everything and begging, ‘Please, my kids, my kids,’” Patricia Johnson said.

At one point, the couple lost sight of the SUV but waved down an officer for help.  Within minutes, the Durango was spotted partially in the street near Johnson C. Smith University.  

The man stole two computers, an iPad and a Kindle Fire, but the children were all right.   

He took off on foot but left the SUV running with the air conditioning on.  Johnson is thankful for that but hopes the man is caught. 

“Hopefully, get the law involved and be able to apprehend this individual because he doesn't deserve to be on the street,” he said.

So far, no arrest has been made in the case. The family believes the person who stole the SUV most likely ditched it after realizing the two children were in the back seat.