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Mother chases thieves who robbed daughters at gunpoint

By KSL.com | Posted - Mar. 22, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.


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WEST VALLEY CITY -- Two suspected thieves have been arrested and a third is on the run. Police say they broke into a home in West Valley City while two children were inside.

Two girls, ages 9 and 15, were alone in the house near 3600 South and 3000 West when three intruders with guns broke in around 12:40 a.m. and started ransacking the house. It's unknown if the thieves -- two men and a woman -- knew the girls were there before they entered the home.

The mother said she had been watching a movie with her a daughters. When they fell asleep, she left to run to a gas station around the corner. She said she was gone for only 10 minutes, but that's when the burglary happened.

Robbers hold girls at gunpoint

While the mother was gone one of her daughters called, saying someone was at the door. The man told the girl he was a family friend.

A suspect is taken into custody.
A suspect is taken into custody.

"The male asked a couple of questions and then asked if he could use the bathroom," said West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell.

Police say the girl opened the door to tell him her mother wasn't home. That's when the intruders rushed in, held the teen and her sister at gunpoint while they ransacked the house.

"They start to tell the kids to get down on the ground. A gun is displayed. A blanket is put over the [two girls], and they're repeatedly told to 'stay down,'" Powell said.

The mother said she hurried home and found a woman with a gun to her daughter's back. She said the intruder hit the girl with the pistol, then fled. The girls were not injured but were very distraught.

Mother pursues suspects until their capture

The mother said the girls' grandmother, who lives across the street, stayed with them while the mother followed the intruders' vehicle and called police.

The grandmother, who watched the girls after her mother chased the suspects, spoke with KSL.

"She stayed right with them," the grandmother said. "She got their license plate number no matter if they had guns on them, she didn't care. She was protecting her children."

Lt. Scott Buchanan with the West Valley City Police Department said, "A Taylorsville police officer picked up the suspect vehicle, which is a maroon-colored SUV. That Taylorsville officer was involved in a pursuit which ended here in the area of 2500 West and 6000 South."

"Thanks to my daughter and her ‘mother bear' instincts, they wouldn't have found these guys if my daughter had not have chased them," the grandmother said.


Thanks to my daughter and her ‘mother bear' instincts, they wouldn't have found these guys if my daughter had not have chased them.

–Grandmother of girls in robbery


When the vehicle chase ended, the three suspects fled on foot. Police say officers captured two of them -- a man and a woman -- but the second man got away.

The captured man was taken to a hospital but has since been released and taken to the police station for questioning.

Maryjane Contreraz, 24, and Kary Carter, 33, were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated theft and aggravated burglary.

Police say it was fortunate that the mother came home when she did.

"It was certainly fortuitous the mom arrived home at the right time and kept an eye on these suspects until the police arrived," Buchanan said.

Police have vague details about the suspect who got away. They hope to find evidence in the vehicle that could lead them to him.

The family is terrified the third man will return.

"The good part is that they're OK and they're safe," the grandmother said. "All the other stuff can be replaced, but they can't… That's what's important to us."

Anyone with information can call police at 801-840-4000.

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Story written with contributions from Shara Park, Pat Reavy and Jennifer Stagg.

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