3 children taken in stolen SUV from southwest Houston gas station found safe, police say

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - Three children were taken Monday when a car was stolen from a southwest Houston gas station.

According to Houston police, the children’s mother, Corena Thomas, was inside a Shell gas station just after 2 a.m. in the 8100 block of Southwest Freeway when her black Honda CRV was stolen with the children inside.

Surveillance video showed Thomas pulling up to the pump and walking into the store to pay for gas. Moments later a light-colored sedan pulled up and a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt got out and stole her car, with her three children inside.

“My kids were asleep in the back seat. I walked in the store and in less than one minute, I swiped my card, turned around and my car was gone,” she said.

Thomas said she had packed up the kids to run to the store for something she needed.

Police found the two boys and a girl -- ages 4, 7 and 8 -- just before 5 a.m. behind a strip mall at 10800 Bellaire Blvd.

Police said a janitor at the mall was taking out the trash when he saw the three children sleeping in the stolen vehicle and flagged down police.

After the two-hour search, Thomas was reunited with her children. She said she was relived. 

“I just grabbed my kids and hugged them. I just apologized,” Corena said. “Even with them being asleep, in one second anything could have happened, and I’m just glad they are safe and OK.”

The children were taken to a hospital to be checked, but police said they appeared to be OK.

Thomas said she believes the children might have slept through the ordeal because they did not mention the vehicle being taken or ask why someone was driving her SUV.

"That's definitely never going to happen again even if they are asleep or it's 1 o’clock in the morning I can't do it," Thomas said.

She is not facing any charges, police said.

Investigators are looking for the person who stole the SUV.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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