Woman Arrested For Leaving Kids In Car

Not only is there an epidemic child hood obesity problem that prompts school systems accross the land to ban cup cakes while eliminating phys ed and recess, but now we see that the old skool parental advice of go outside and play and don’t come back before dinner is a societal impossibility.

A Hartford family will now suffer the nanny state intrusion into their lives over this incident:

Monday afternoon Simone Harris, 26,  left her three children, ages 1, 2 and 9 in her car while she went shopping at BJs. The temperature at the time was 29 degrees, and according to the police report the children were alone for at least 14 minutes. The car wasn’t left running there there was no heat. A customer complained to a private security officer, the police were called, she was arrested and later posted a $10k bond.   The children were placed into care of the their grandmother, and the police notified the state Department of Children and Families.

There are lots of interesting tid bits in here. Harris must have been 17 when she had her first child. Leaving three kids unattended in a car on a brisk winter day is probably not a good idea, but hardly the end of the world. Arresting the woman, traumatizing the kids, and thinking its okay that kids have to be supervised every single minute of their lives is by far worse.


  1. Chris Donahue

    I would have to offer a rebuttal of sorts to this…

    Not that I want the state telling me how to raise my daughters, and I have left them in the car to run a quick errand, there are 2 key points here that I think should have involved the local PD and DCF.

    1 – A one year old has not fully developed their ability control their own body temperature that an older child (the 9 year old in this case) has. Pediatricians recommend extra layers of clothing for infants and small toddlers. With outside temps in the 20s for the last few days, it won’t take too long before that vehicle becomes too cold for the child to be in it safely.

    2 – They were in the vehicle for “at least 14 minutes.” Assuming her shopping trip through BJ’s is anything like my average trip through Costco, she will be at least an hour. I don’t think I have been less than 30 minutes in Costco. Ever. Even an adult would be in pretty bad shape if left in an unheated car in 20 degree weather for that length of time.

    This lady, if nothing else, needs to go to parenting classes. She put those kids (especially the 1 and 2 year olds) at risk of potentially serious injury.


    A reader could get the impression that TG thinks it is OK to leave little children in a parked car, and the State should not get involved, regardless of the risks to the children. Some of us think it is the responsibility of the State to set, and enforce, minimum standards for child care.
    The story does not give much detail, such as how the kids were clothed to protect them from the cold, but it is very hard to justify leaving kids that age alone in a car in a public parking lot, on a cold day. That doesn’t even qualify as appropriate minimum care on a nice day.
    It is hard to believe TG would not be concerned to discover a one yr old left in a parked car.

    • turfgrrl

      Old Timer: You’re not that far off. I don’t think it’s okay, but it’s also not the end of the world. I’m railing against the idea that the “state” the “police” have to get involved in every little issue. You know what, the “customer” could have asked the store to page the customer who left their kids unattended in the car and then said something. But no, let’s criminalize stupidity instead. And now what. Have we helped the kids? Have we helped the woman become a better parent? No.

      • Joe

        If the customer would have just waited for the mother, he/she would have gotten a MYOB (mind your own business) from the mother. Plus the mother probably would just continue to do it.

  3. just asking...

    There have been situations in which babies left in closed cars in the summer died. In 20 degree cold, hypotermia can set in quickly in a small child. A two year old can pull off knobs and choke. A 9 year old can decide to go out to look for Mom. This is not a “nanny state ” situation. This is a mother who has acted in a way to endanger her kids. Maybe it’s inconvenient to take tham into the store with you…but that’s what being a Mom is all about. Kids first; you second. The bystander did the right thing. Would you turn your head and walk away? I don’t even leave my dog in the car in hot or very cold weather.

  4. CT Taxpayer

    The person who reported this case of child neglect, which is (and ought to be) a crime, met a moral imperative of helping the defenseless. I have frequently gone to places like BJ’s and Costco, and rarely have I been in the store for less than a half hour. An hour or more is more typical. However, the amount of time isn’t the issue. One of those children could have become sick, could have choked on a toy, could have been abducted by someone. I wonder about the other times this mother left the children alone at home “for just a little while,” further exposing them to untold dangers. This isn’t drama; it is real life and the dangers are real.

    Will it make the mother a better parent? I can’t answer that. However, I do believe that it will at least make her fearful of ever getting caught again. DCF will no doubt monitor her, but she will also be answering to that grandmother, who, I hope, was livid.

  5. The Crumb

    If you have kids the first thing that pops into your mind is “What about the sick world that we live in where these kids could have been kidnapped in less than 5 mins!” What the heck was this person thinking? I would have waited for her and let her have it. She’d have been sucking on her teeth like chicklets! People should not do this, it’s as bad as or worse than parking in a handicap spot.

    • Secondhand Rose

      I don’t know about that. I remember back in the 60s my parents would regularly leave my brothers and myself in the car while they grocery shopped at Grand Union on Westport Ave. We used to pretend that we were puppies, and spend the time barking at passers-by. Nobody ever tried to “kidnap” us, and there were just as many crazies back then as there are today. And I don’t remember ever hearing about any kids who died after being left in the car back then either. But I do remember stories back then about kids being left on school buses, or whose parents drove off and left them at rest stops. “Kidnapping” stories are mostly hyperbole. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but it certainly isn’t going to happen the one time you leave your kid for 30 minutes, not in this day and age when everyone is everybody else’s busybody.

      • The Crumb

        Wish I could say the same about loser who stole our dog out of the car while I was playland last summer. I just ran in to get the kids. Oh, she would be sucking her teeth like chicklets, no doubt about it.


        Secondhandrose You have the most wacko thought process I have ever seen…You say that ““Kidnapping” stories are mostly hyperbole”, tell that to the parents of a child that has gone missing…Also you say that there was as many crazies back then as now..Well you would know about being crazy wouldn’t you? Lets not forget what Rose will have for a response “Hi Mikey” as usual. She see thinks everybody that disagree with her is Mikey.

  6. just asking...

    Kidnapping is not the thing I would be most worried about. There are zillions of ways kids can get into trouble and hurt themsleves. This Mom was not around if the 1 year old got a snowsuit cord around his neck; if the two year old caught her fingers in the heating ducts (looking for where the warm air comes), or if the 9 year old kicked the gear shift into neutral to start the car rolling. Kids are hard-wired to get into trouble. Leaving them alone in a locked car is an invitation to trouble. The woman who called the cops did the right thing; mom needs some parenting lessons.

    • Secondhand Rose

      While I don’t disagree with you that the kids shouldn’t have been left in the car in this cold snap, I hardly think that children of this age would be even remotely close to being able to get themselves out of their carseats. The 9 year old – maybe (that’s a big maybe; even adults have trouble with carseat buckles of kids at any age); the 2 and 1 year olds, impossible. So how is a 2 year old going to reach the “heating ducts” from a carseat? Besides, the article states that the car wasn’t running and the heat wasn’t on; what would even make a 2 year old look for “heating ducts” out of the blue? Infant and toddler snowsuits no longer have “cords” on them; it’s one of the safety features put in place at least 10 years ago by manufacturers. Furthermore, unless the car was parked on an incline, even if the 9 year old did manage to get him/herself out of the carseat and “kicked the gearshift” (which would only work in a standard shift car, by the way) they wouldn’t be able to “roll” anywhere; at the very least they’d only roll into the car in front of them. It’s a good argument but there are too many catches in it for any of it to be actually possible. I mean, come on. Get real.


    Norwalk was a very different place 50 years ago, but a mother who left three little kids alone in a car in freezing weather would have gotten arrested back then, too. If it was milder weather and the kids were older, then the risks were not as great. Interpretation of the relevant law leaves some discretion to the officer. I may be wrong, but I doubt if you were barking at strangers when you were only one year old. Some of your fans here may not have the same doubt. I suspect you were much older when you started barking at strangers.

    • Secondhand Rose

      Well, I remember being left in the car at the Grand Union when I was around 8 years old. And I’m 4 years older than my youngest brother, which would make him 4 at the time, my other brother would have been 6. I remember being alone in the car when my brother was a baby, and there were no carseats in those days.

      We were also regularly left in the car at Bloomingdale’s in Stamford; down in South Norwalk when my mother would go to the 5 and dime and the bank (and I remember talking to some of the “bums” who used to hang out under the Washington Street bridge in those days when they’d come up to the car to say hello to us kids); and in East Norwalk when Mom would go to Charpentier’s butcher shop and the Factory Store.

      A few years later I can remember walking from our house off Benedict Street down to the South Norwalk Library after school with a bag of books, and then walking home again. Or walking down to the Norwalk Library and back again. In the dark, in the winter. And that was during jr. high school, so I was at the most only 13 at that time.

      • just asking...

        I was never left alone in the car or at home until I was old enough to babysit siblings and others (13 or 14). I walked to school and the library and friends houses, but I had to say where I was going, call when I got there (except for school) and let them know when I would be back. If I wasn’t back by that time, my father came looking for me. Now maybe my parents were different. They were European and did not have the American “nothing bad can ever happen to us” mentality. They had been through the war and knew that bad things could happen (and did) when you least expected them. I was also not allowed to sit in the front (suicide) seat in the days before seat belts and airbags nor to stand on the car’s differential in the back while it was moving. Overprotective? Maybe. But I knew I was wanted, cherished, and safe. I do the same for the kids around me. I think anything less is taking an unneccessary risk for a tiny reward — your own convenience.

  8. Chris Donahue

    Rose –

    My point was, and remains, that in this weather these children (especially the 1 and 2 year olds) could be suffering from hypothermia if left for an extended period of time in an unheated car. This mother put her children at serious risk of serious illness or death.

    My mother left me and my brother in the car when she ran errands as well. But not when it was so cold. My brother and I played in the car all the time in the driveway, and as I noted in my original post here, I have left my kids in the car when I had a quick errand, but I would never do it when the temperature was so low. Not because it is illegal, but because it is the wrong thing to do, and puts my children at risk.

    And by the way, my 3 year old just figured out how to open one of the 2 clasps on her car seat, so it won’t be long before she can get herself out of the thing…

    • turfgrrl

      Chris Donahue: And there was a time when children were not in car seats and managed to be left alone in cars long before the state stepped in. How old are you? Do you not think your mother or father left you alone, not in a car seat, and you survived?

      • Chris Donahue

        I just turned 37, and I did survive my childhood without a car seat, but I also remember flying over the passenger seat in my fathers car and ending up in the foot well when he slammed on his brakes because a deer jumped in front of the car when I was about 6.
        My parents knew better then to leave me in a car for 15 minutes in 20 degree weather.

      • Mikey

        However you fail to mention the many many that do not survived from not being in car seats and being left alone in cars…Your post makes no sense at all…Are you saying that we should not have a law requiring car seats? Because if you are you need to get you facts straight. Car seats save children s lives just as seat belts save adult lives. GET IT.

      • Mikey

        However you fail to mention the many many that do not survived from not being in car seats and being left alone in cars…Your post makes no sense at all…Are you saying that we should not have a law requiring car seats? Because if you are you need to get you facts straight. Car seats save children s lives just as seat belts save adult lives.

  9. Mary Pugh

    My grandmother left me in the car while she went into a place…and she must have also left the keys in…because I got the car started… lol

    I don’t think anything bad happened..but I did move the car forward a good bit.

    I think I was 4 or 5.

  10. Crabby

    When we were growing up my family only had one car. My Dad would take it to work and my Mom would send him on errands after he got home or she would go on Saturdays. There were 5 of us rolling around the car…no carseats…and we lived to tell the tale. We were often left in the car while they ran into stores and we were safe everywhere from Stop&Shop to Wall Street and beyond. The only kid I remember disappearing was Mary Mount in Wilton.
    There are so just so many more vehicles on the road now, more drivers, teenagers and just the general opportunity for bad things to happen.
    The State cannot mandate common sense. The woman was an idiot but an arrest, a 10k bond and the kids in foster care seems extreme for a first offense.

  11. CT Taxpayer

    To the people who use the “my parents did it, but nothing bad ever happened to me” rationale, understand that your experiences and those of people you know don’t provide a statistically significant sample that can reasonably be used to prove a point.

    What reasonable excuse is there for a parent not to take the trouble of having the children go into the store with him/her? Is it because it’s too much trouble? Well, children can be a lot of work, but they are too important for us to let inconvenience stand in the way of good judgment.

    I don’t see a problem with the arrest because it drives home the seriousness of our responsibility to protect our children to the extent that we possibly can. Those of you who object should begin lobbying our state legislators to change the laws.


    Today’s HOUR has a story of a another mother being arrested at WalMart on Main Ave for leaving an infant asleep in a car while she was shopping. It lacks some details, but she was arrested.


    At what point should this “lack of common sense” be criminalized ? Only after something terrible happens ? Maybe they shouldn’t arrest drivers for motor vehicle violations until after there is a serious accident. Do you believe there should never be any enforcement until violations until there are bad results ?

  14. concerned

    There is another in Enfield – the mother went tanning and left her kids in the car. Come on – there has to be someone watching out for the welfare of these kids. If these parents are stupid enough to endanger their kids in public, imagine what happens in private. I agree the bond may be set high but they do need to have DCF involvement to have visits to help them learn what is safe and isn’t safe and someone to make sure things aren’t even worse at home. Children are our future and they are the ones who have no voice of their own.

  15. sono resident

    I understand what TG is saying and hate that the police are so regularly involved in matters that don’t need the power of a police officer, but leaving kids in a car for a quarter of an hour minimum while at BJ’s, where the kids can’t see their mom and the mom can’t see them is foolish. That’s a lot different than running into a quickmart and getting some milk. As for Rose, you spend a lot of time on this site and regularly make the assumption that since it happened to you and you think you’re fine everyone else is paranoid or neurotic if they feel otherwise. I don’t know if your mom should’ve left you in the car and even if you did turn out fine (and you are articulate) doesn’t mean that is the norm. I dislike helicoptering parents and managed childhoods w/every event planned in advance, but to draw that conclusion from this example is unwarranted. Without other exacerbating information, the mother won’t go to jail, lose her children or anything else, but she may be forced to go to parenting classes which she arguably needs.

  16. just asking...

    How stupid have we become when mothers don’t know enough to keep their children warm in sub-freezing temperatures? Leaving them in an unheated car is the same as leaving them outside.

    Maybe TG is right. Let natural selection work.

    • Secondhand Rose

      It is – IF the kids were dressed in shorts and tank tops and had bare feet. Then you might actually have a case for a claim of child “abuse”. However, if a kid is sitting in a car with winter boots on, a snowsuit or winter jacket, hat, and mittens, they are not in any imminent danger of “freezing to death” and to state that this is so is ludicrous. Fifteen minutes, give or take, leaving kids in a car that HAD been running (and presumably the heat was on while it was running) would have left a normal amount of residual warmth in the car and the kids would have been reasonably comfortable in that length of time. Some people seem to think the mother left her kids practically naked with the windows wide open, judging from the overreactions being posted here. I suppose none of you have ever sat in a car for 15 minutes or more in the winter after you’ve turned it off? A car with all the doors and windows closed can stay comfortable for quite a while, and if the car is parked in sunlight, even in the winter it stays warm even longer.

      • CT Taxpayer

        It is child neglect to leave a child unsupervised as this mother did. You disagree about this, but fortunately, the law disagrees with you. I’ll bet you wouldn’t leave your wallet on your car seat if you weren’t in the car. A child is worth infinitely more than anything you could have in your wallet.

  17. Secondhand Rose

    The law may disagree with me but that doesn’t make that law “right” or “fair”. It just makes it a “law”. And there are plenty of bad laws on the books. This one is a perfect example.


    Google “baby left in car deaths” and click on some of the stories that come up. Kids do die from this kind of neglect, regardless of how harmless you think it is, and what a shame TG thinks it is for the police to get involved.

  19. CT Taxpayer

    I would rather practice extra vigilance and responsibility than take the chance that harm would ever come to my child because I had misjudged the potential for harm to him or her. There are enough dangers out there that we can’t control, and so we ought to control those that are within our ability. I haven’t done the search that OLD TIMER suggested, largely because I don’t have to be convinced, but I wonder if Rose would take it seriously anyway.

  20. Nancy

    Where my (now grown) kids grew up was in South Central PA- Gettysburg area. No one even bothered to lock their doors when they left for work.Older kids could play in the neighborhood and in the Battlefield woods, unattended.
    However, at night it was a different matter. Homes were locked and many of the residents there were “locked and loaded.”

    As far as leaving children unattended in a vehicle, I never did that because I wanted them with me as I would shop.

  21. judyo

    In Tinley Park IL a mother was arrested for leaving a sleeping baby in her car while she & her other 2 daughters put money in a Salvation Army kettle. The car was parked 30 feet away within Mom’s view and this act took minutes. She was arrested but the charges were dropped. However, it was a traumatic moment (being arrested in front of her kids and then being put on the DCFS list – who made a visit to the house).

    I was born in the 50’s. I remember being left in the car at least once while my Mom ran into the grocery store. I remember because I got in trouble for making my younger brother yell bad things out the window.

    I really did walk over a mile to school, mostly by myself. I walked alone to the penny candy store and to a playground a few blocks away (surrounded by train tracks and somewhat busy streets). I was quite young when I went out to play, went to the store & playground. Ah, things were different back then. Now we don’t feel safe leaving the 7 yr. old granddaughter out playing in front (on our dead end street) and we watch her at the school bus stop at the end of the block until she gets on the bus.

  22. LovingMom

    I LOVE ALL CHILDREN AND ESPECIALLY MY OWN! That being said, it’s probably in the best interest of our children to make parents, babysitters, etc. more aware of dangers and possibilities behind leaving children in the car. I think in this particular case it was way too cold and the car was nowhere in sight. I was a child in the 80’s and I remember being left in a car on several occasions by my parents, by friend’s parents, even by babysitters. I think the majority of people I know will tell you that they have been left in a car for some amount of time. I am constantly reading parenting websites and magazines for insight on topics I’m not too sure about. For something that’s considered so serious, there is no Nation wide law that states to not leave children in the car PERIOD. By not having this law, the topic remains gray. I have seen and read of many cases where parents have left their children in the car to go gamble, shop, spent hours inside a building, etc. How awful of them right? Well, it wasn’t until recently that I had my own experience. My children and I all had just gotten over being really sick and I had to take them with me to pick up my oldest from school. I parked right in front of the playground where my oldest gets let out. I kept my three and two year old in my car. It was a cool sunny day in the shade, driver’s side window cracked, my doors were alarm locked, and both my children were asleep. I learned that day that some people just don’t take it lightly at all. I simply walked right up to the gate where my child gets out of school; about five car spaces away from my car. I can see my car in plain view. I forgot that day that I didn’t even have to pick up my child right then because she had an after school class. So it was that quick that I turned back to my car. A man and woman were standing near my car already ON THE HORN with police, and the woman began to throw up her arms and yell at me about how I was neglecting my children and how I’m going to be arrested. Her husband was looking me up and down. They were both treating me as if I was trying to sell my body while leaning up against my car with my kids inside. All I could think about was if my children were okay, were they screaming at the top of their lungs, did they wake up and begin to cry. I even asked myself what possessed them to look into my very tinted windows in the first place. Could it have been the stickers on my car? At that point I didn’t even entertain them cause they were historical and it seemed like they were just looking to cause drama. When I got into my car my children were still asleep thank God. I know myself as a parent and my children weren’t in any danger. Since then, I’ve spoken to the local police department and my attorney and both said that I was not being neglectful. However, the police did tell me that it’s best to not do it at all for the next time. Now, by these people jumping on the phone with the police within seconds, not only were they wasting the time of police who need that time to fight real crime, but their intentions were to have me arrested. I do not see how their concern was for my children. Since then I have not left my kids in the car mostly because where I thought they were safe in my sight to begin with, these people could have easily been the type to abduct my children. It happened that quick. I’ll tell you one thing though. Now that I wont be leaving my children in the car even for a minute, I will simply talk to other parents who might do the same thing and share what I’ve experienced before getting on the phone with police and try to have them arrested. Those busybodies reamed me for a bad judgment call. And in my opinion, those busybodies need schooling about their bad judgment. Children don’t need to have there parents labeled neglectful, handcuffed, or taken to jail in a case like mine. They need parents who are better informed so they can practice better judgment.

  23. Jess

    I’m generally in support of parents who feel their children do NOT need to be in eyesight 24/7. In fact, there is a poster below talking about that tinly park woman, and I had SERIOUS problems with that. You clearly have the right to walk more 30 feet away from your child…whether you can see them or not.

    All that being said, this case above was for too long, too far, too cold and the kids were too young. Had it just been the 9 year old, fine. But a 9 year old can not protect the little ones. This is far beyond jumping into 7/11 to pay your gas….which is also illegal (ridiculous).