MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 investigates has uncovered the cost to taxpayers for the police effort to find baby Zoe Jordan.
The price tag is more than 71-thousand dollars.
The toddler kidnaped in March when a thief stole her mother’s car after she left the baby in the back seat with the engine running to get some food. When it happened, law enforcement across the Memphis, Shelby County and even the nation were on the lookout for the toddler because it triggered an Amber Alert.
Misty Stewart of Cordova remembers hearing about the search and “was worried about the baby." "I was worried about the mom. I was worried for her.”
Willie Lomax said the news put him on edge. “I am a grandpa. It just tore me up,” said Lomax.
Baby Zoe found less than 24 hours later safe and unharmed in the stolen car left abandoned. FOX13 filed an open records request asking for the amount of money spent to search for the toddler. Memphis Police told us the cost was $71,604.
“A lot of money, a lot of time. A lot of our taxpayer dollars,” said Stewart.
When the crime happened, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings bristled at the reason for the whole incident. Memphis Police have been issuing citations to drivers who leave their cars unattended and the engine idling because it is against the law and it attracts car theft. FOX13 found out Memphis Police have investigated 609 reports of stolen cars where the keys were left inside and the engine running.
“Don’t leave the cars running,” said Willie Lomax. FOX13 also discovered the baby’s mother, Daniel Brown, has not gotten a citation from police.
“Is the mother going to have to pay back some of that 71-thousand?“ Lomax asked because, “she should have not left the kid in the back seat.”
Others say, James Williams the suspect arrested for stealing the car, ought to pay back law enforcement.
“The guy that they arrested because he took the car and the baby, yes” said Bobbi Lomax.
FOX13 emailed Memphis Police for comment. MPD responded and said this:
“This is still an ongoing matter. However, we would like to use this as an opportunity to stress the importance of not leaving a running vehicle unattended. Also, our duty in this case was exhaust all means to ensure that we located Zoe.”