MARGATE, Fla. – A 17-year-old boy was arrested overnight after stealing a BMW SUV Tuesday in Margate, authorities said on Wednesday.
Alex Exantus, of North Lauderdale, was arrested shortly after midnight on charges of grand theft and burglary of an occupied conveyance. Police said a charge of false imprisonment of a child is pending.
"It's amazing. (With) all the help and the agencies, and the help with the media and tips that came in, we're able to help resolve this case in a positive manner," Margate Police Sgt. Lorie Eller said.
Police said a 9-month-old baby girl was inside the 2016 BMW X1 when it was stolen Tuesday afternoon outside a post office at 5094 Coconut Creek Parkway.
Margate police said the baby's mother, Elizabeth Marchand, had left her car, which had government plates, on outside the post office when the thief got into the driver's seat and drove away.
Alert neighbors in an apartment complex near McNab Road and Florida's Turnpike said they recognized the BMW from live coverage on the news.
One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she saw the car running in the parking lot with the little girl inside.
She recorded the police scene in a video on Facebook.
"My son said, 'That looks like the car that's on TV with the baby in it,'" the woman could be heard saying in the video. "The way the baby was slumped over in the chair, it's like she wasn't alive."
The woman said she called 911 immediately, and the girl appeared to be fine when paramedics arrived.
Police confirmed that the baby was found safe in the vehicle and she was reunited with her parents.
The parents, who were both wearing military uniforms, drove away soon after reuniting with their daughter.
Authorities said Exantus does not live at the apartment complex where the baby was found.
Records show that the teen has a history of arrests in South Florida, including four arrests this year.
He appeared in court Wednesday, and was ordered to be placed on house arrest and was fitted with a GPS ankle monitor.
Exantus' next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 7. The state plans to charge Exantus as an adult, prosecutors said.
Authorities said the case is still under investigation and it's unclear whether the mother will face charges for leaving her baby in the vehicle.
According to Florida law, a child under 6 may not be left alone in a vehicle "for a period in excess of 15 minutes" or "for any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running, the health of the child is in danger or the child appears to be in distress."
Leaving a child under 6 alone in a vehicle under those conditions is a second-degree misdemeanor.