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Repo Man Drives Off With Sleeping Toddler In SUV

A Missouri woman says a man repossessing her Jeep Grand Cherokee took the vehicle while her 3-year-old son was asleep in the back seat and didn't come back for 45 minutes, after she had called 911.

The repossession company is disputing the facts, saying its agent followed procedures, didn't see the boy because he was covered in a blanket and brought him back just five minutes later.

The police report stemming from the incident will be forwarded to the Greene County prosecutor's office for review, said officer Matt Brown, a police department spokesman, adding police do not believe there was any wrongdoing on the repo agency's part.

Arnetta Martin, 31, told police the incident occurred a week ago around lunchtime at her boyfriend's house in Springfield.

After parking and walking inside to set down her keys and purse, Martin said, she came back outside in time to see her Jeep being driven away. She said she chased the car down the street, screaming at the driver to stop.

Martin called 911 to report that someone had driven off in her car with her son inside.

"I had no idea what was going on," she said Tuesday.

Martin said the apologetic repo agent returned with her son about 45 minutes after driving off.

The owner of the agency that repossessed Martin's Jeep for Great Southern Bank offered a very different version of what happened.

Debra Durham of Midwest Adjusters Inc. said the repo agent, an 11-year employee she described as "seasoned" and "well-trained," followed proper procedure. The agent looked for a child car seat, Durham said, and verified the vehicle identification number before repossessing the sports utility vehicle.

The repossessor only traveled a short distance before realizing Martin's son was asleep in the back seat, Durham said, adding that he promptly turned around and returned the boy to his mother.

Police dispatch records indicate an officer was sent to Martin's boyfriend's house at 11:48 a.m. and arrived 11 minutes later. The officer indicated in his report that the repo agent pulled up at noon to return Martin's son.

At the crux of the dispute is whether the snoozing toddler was visible when the agent repossessed the Jeep.

Martin questioned how the agent missed her son, who she said was upright in a booster seat with a blanket across his midsection.

Durham, however, said there was no car seat in the Jeep and that the child was lying on the back seat obscured by a blanket.

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