A 41-year-old homeless woman briefly kidnapped a 4-year-old girl inside a Trader Joe’s in Santa Rosa on Thursday, grabbing the child under the gaze of her mother who watched from the checkout line, police said.
Tina Szczepanek, a transient from Lake County who didn’t know the mother or the victim, snatched up the child around 10:30 a.m. at the Trader Joe’s in the 2100 block of Santa Rosa Avenue, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department.
As the mother waited in the checkout line, she watched as her daughter tugged the small shopping cart they used near the front entrance where carts are kept, police said. Suddenly, Szczepanek yelled that the 4-year-old belonged to her, picked up the girl and walked out, authorities said.
The mother ran out of the store and confronted Szczepanek in the parking lot, where the woman put down the child and walked away.
Police later located and arrested her in the parking lot, booking the suspect into the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping.
Szczepanek was held under $100,000 bail, jail records show.