EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 10, 2009

Mom accused of leaving baby alone in unlocked car

Woman was shopping at mall

SALEM — A Sandown woman was arrested on charges of leaving her 10-month-old child alone in a parked car at the mall parking lot while she went into a department store.

Kelly Acerra, 34, faces a single count of endangering the welfare of a child after leaving her baby in the car while she went into Macy's at The Mall at Rockingham Park, police Capt. Shawn Patten said.

A witness in the store parking lot spotted the child in the car and called police about 3 p.m. Friday. The car was left running with the doors unlocked and an interior light on, Patten said. Police estimate the child was left alone in the car for 10 to 20 minutes.

Mall security paged the owner of the car throughout the mall after the witness called police. About five minutes later, Acerra left Macy's pushing a shopping cart with another young child in it and approached the officers, Patten said.

Acerra said she went into the store to return an item and didn't want to wake the baby, who was sleeping in a child seat in the back of the car, police said.

Escorted by police cruisers, Acerra drove her car to Salem police headquarters, where she was booked. The state Division for Children, Youth and Families was contacted, but the children remained in Acerra's custody, Patten said.

"During her processing, on-duty personnel watched her kids," Patten said. "We issued a summons and her kids were returned to her."

Police did not take away the children because they were not in imminent danger, Patten said. Any custody issues will be determined by DCYF.

"Hopefully, she learns something from all this," Patten said.

Acerra was released pending arraignment at Salem District Court.

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