Police search for alleged child abductor that mall security freed

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UPDATE: Simon Property Group spokesman Les Morris released this statement: "This incident is now a police matter and, of course, we are fully cooperating with their investigation. Every piece of information that we have in our possession as well as witness reports have been turned over to the police for their follow-up."

ALBEMARLE, Va. (WTVR) - Albemarle County Police are looking for a suspect in connection to an attempted abduction at The Fashion Square Mall.

The incident happened around 2 p.m. Saturday, while a Charlottesville-area family was shopping with their two-year-old daughter.

Police said a male suspect allegedly grabbed the little girl near the mall’s food court and started running.  Investigators say the father was able to chase the suspect down and get his daughter back. 

Mall security was summoned, but Albemarle police said mall security escorted the man off of the property, instead of contacting police.

Albemarle County Police spokesperson Carter Johnson said investigators began looking into the case after they were contacted by the victim’s family around 8 o’clock Saturday evening. 

“Anytime someone puts their hands on another person’s child, picks that child up and starts to walk away, that’s attempted abduction,” Johnson says.  “It’s a felony offense and it’s something we take very seriously.”

Fashion Square is operated by Simon Malls.  A spokesperson for Fashion Square did not return phone calls to CBS 6 by airtime on Monday.

Police describe the suspect as a light-skinned black man, about 6 feet, 3 inches tall; weighing 220 to 235 pounds.

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact Crimestoppers at (434)977-4000.