Sheriff’s Office: Woman left baby in hot car while she shoplifted

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Staff report

DESTIN — A Fort Walton Beach woman faces charges of child neglect and larceny after authorities say she shoplifted from a store after she left her child alone in a hot car.

According to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, Jeana Nielsen Barlas, 38, was arrested Monday after she was detained by a department store employee in Destin who allegedly caught her shoplifting.

The loss prevention officer told deputies she saw Barlas enter the store about 2 p.m. Monday and select several items, including shorts, baby clothes, baby items and water bottles worth $295 and try to leave the store without paying for them, the report said.

The officer confronted Barlas at the door and escorted her to the loss prevention office, where he contacted the Sheriff’s Office.

After being read her rights, Barlas admitted she intended to leave the store with the unpaid merchandise, according to her arrest report.

A deputy was gathering Barlas’ information in his patrol car about 3 p.m. when dispatchers received a call from a worker at a nearby store that a child was locked in a gray Toyota passenger van, alone and crying.

The employee said the car was not running and the windows were rolled down slightly.

The deputy asked Barlas if she drove a gray passenger van, and she said she did, the report said. He then asked her if she left her baby unattended in the vehicle, and she said she did.

The deputy drove to the store with Barlas in the back of the vehicle. When he arrived, Destin firefighters already were trying to open the van.

The deputy saw the small child strapped into a car seat in rear passenger seat

Barlas used her keys to unlock the van and remove the child.

“It should be noted, the defendant did not advise anyone she left (redacted) in the vehicle when she entered the store as she was detained in the loss prevention office,” the deputy said in his report. “(The child) was left in the vehicle unattended for approximately one hour from when she entered the store to when the life safety violation call was dispatched.”

Temperatures Monday reached 75 degrees, according to AccuWeather. Experts say that within 15 minutes of being parked and turned off, temperatures inside cars become 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the temperature outside.

Barlas was charged with leaving a child under the age of 6 unattended in a motor vehicle, child neglect without great bodily harm and larceny.

She was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail and was released on her own recognizance, according to jail records.

 

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