Orange County, FL – October 21, 2011 – A Repo Man repossessed a car from a strip mall casino parking lot with an 11 year old child sleeping inside, only to abandon the car and the child and disappear with his name unknown. The mother has been arrested and with charged with child neglect.
The incident began when 46-year-old Elizabeth Tato drove with her son to a Family Dollar Store on South Orange Avenue on Thursday afternoon but then elected to go to The Winner’s Circle, a strip-mall casino that was nearby and asked her son, Christian Tato, age 11, if he wanted to come in with her, but he reportedly chose to stay in the car.
Tato told police she was only inside for 15 to 20 minutes, but a security officer at The Winner’s Circle said she played games for about an hour, before noticing her car was gone.
During that time period, a car repo man towed her car out of the parking lot with her 11-year-old son sleeping in the back seat.
Unaware that there was a child inside, police say a tow driver removed it from the lot.
When the tow truck driver noticed the child, police say he moved the boy to the truck’s cab. He then drove to a RaceTrac gas station, and left the child with its manager.
The boy told police he fell asleep in the car when his mother left, and awoke to find it being towed. He reported that he wasn’t hurt, police said, and appeared to be fine physically.
Christian’s step mother, Aida Change, is livid.
“The guy said that he did not notice that the boy was sleeping, and he took the boy with him in the car,” said Change.
Reportedly, once the Repo Man realized that the boy was in the vehicle, he let Christian call his father. However, he pulled over at a gas station where he unhooked the car and left the boy by himself. On top of that, police have no idea who repossessed the car.
“He said he was really scared,” said Change.
When she left the Winner’s Club, Tato, believing that someone had stolen her car, called 911.
Tato said she was shopping at the Family Dollar store when she noticed the Winner’s Club. She told police she was only inside for about 15 minutes, but the security guard told police he thought she was there for about an hour.
“You don’t leave your boy, no matter how old he is, in a car by himself,” said Change. “And the repo man should have checked the car before he left with the car.”
Tato was arrested on a charge of neglect of a child without great harm.
The child is reported as fine and is with his father while the Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating the case.