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Man arrested on suspicion of kidnapping 6-year-old girl from MTA bus

February 21, 2010 |  3:59 pm

A man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of kidnapping a 6-year-old girl on a bus in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

Early Sunday morning, a homeless woman boarded a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus with her daughter and apparently fell asleep, Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said. When she woke up about 4 a.m., the child was gone, he said.

The woman alerted the driver, who notified the MTA bus dispatch center and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Transit Services Bureau.  Sheriff’s deputies based nearby and police officers joined in the search.

The mother told sheriff’s officials that before she fell asleep, she had recognized a man on the bus who was also homeless but was not a friend of hers. When she woke up, he too was gone.

MTA dispatchers provided a description of the man and child to bus operators. Shortly before 6 a.m. a driver reported having two people matching their description on another bus.

Sheriff’s deputies intercepted the bus and arrested the man. He was identified as 60-year-old John Thomas. ‪The child was taken into protective custody.

"This incident happened at just after 4 a.m. today, and we found the young girl, unharmed, and arrested the alleged kidnapper less than two hours later,” said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. “That is good police work."

-- Andrew Blankstein