Car thief, victim arrested after Apple Valley woman reported child was in her stolen car, triggering Amber Alert: Officials

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A carjacking suspect is seen in an image provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on Dec. 4, 2020.

A carjacking suspect is seen in an image provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Dec. 4, 2020.

After asking for the public’s help finding a child believed to have been inside a carjacked vehicle in Highland Friday, the Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said it found the “kidnapping allegations unfounded” and arrested both the man who stole the car and the woman he stole it from.

Deputies originally responded to 25785 Baseline St., where Ethel Jean Hervey, a 46-year-old Apple Valley woman, reported her vehicle was taken with her 2-year-old child inside while she was in a laundromat, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

An Amber Alert was issued as a sheriff’s helicopter, K-9 units and officials from neighboring law enforcement agencies responded to assist in the search.

The department had activated the alert shortly before 10 a.m., saying a young girl was inside a car that a man stole. But a sheriff’s spokesperson later said a child was never in the vehicle.

At about 10:15 a.m., authorities located suspect in the carjacking and the vehicle that was taken, described as a tan-colored 1998 Infiniti Q45 — but no child was found in the vehicle, according to the department.

Detectives say they determined there was never a child in the car shortly after the suspect was taken into custody.

The alleged car thief has been identified as Nijee Jackson, 30. Deputies say he was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto and was booked at the Central Detention Center.

In calling for the public’s help finding the car earlier, officials released surveillance video that shows a man slowly walking up to a car, getting in the driver’s seat and driving away as someone chases behind it while yelling.

Another video shows the same man inside a laundromat, carrying what appears to be an item of clothing or a bundle.

Following an investigation into the incident, Hervey was arrested later Friday on suspicion of a false report of a child abduction and violation of probation.

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