Authorities told Channel 9's partner, The Gaston Gazette, that two people in the parking lot reported seeing children screaming and crying in the van with no adult around Friday.
Police say they found a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old child in the van, which was unlocked and running with the air conditioner on and a DVD playing.
Officers say the children's baby sitter, 24-year-old Anna Conley, told them she was one row away in the lot talking about buying a car.
Conley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse. It wasn't known if she had a lawyer.