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Modesto family's quick actions thwarted attempted kidnapping of 3-year-old girl, deputies say

The sheriff's office said the mother was able to pull her child away from the suspect.

MODESTO, Calif. — The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office said the quick actions of a Modesto family thwarted an attempted kidnapping of a three-year-old girl.

Deputies arrested Crystal Melena, 32 of Modesto, on an attempted kidnapping charge. Deputies said Melena tried to kidnap a three-year-old girl who was playing in her front yard. 

The incident happened on Sept. 20. Deputies responded to the 400 block of North Emerald Avenue in Modesto for a reported argument between Melena and a homeowner. Melena thought the child was hers and allegedly tried to kidnap her to take her back, according to the sheriff's office.

Citing information from family members, the sheriff's office said the three-year-old girl's mother pulled the child away and pushed Melena away from them. By the time deputies arrived, Melena was gone.

However, deputies later found Melena near the Modesto airport after getting a description of the vehicle she had from family members as well as a license plate number. Deputies said she was found inside the vehicle and identified by the family as the attempted kidnapper.

"The family’s vigilance and quick actions prevented the girl from being abducted. Their ability to provide an accurate vehicle description and the license plate number aided the Sheriff’s Office in quickly locating and apprehending Melena," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.


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