Police release video explaining successful September search for 7-year-old Portland girl

In a video released by Portland Police Saturday, the bureau breaks down the process of finding the 7-year-old girl who was in the backseat of a car when it was stolen in September.

The girl, Yamilet Martinez, was asleep the whole time until police found her less than a block from Laurelhurst Park.

Police received a call from Martinez’s mother at a U-Haul lot at Southeast 49th Avenue and Powell Boulevard at 6:50 p.m. Sept. 18. The family had just moved from Vancouver. The girl’s mother stepped out of the car briefly to help her husband with the U-haul truck return. She noticed the Bluetooth connection fading on her phone, and realized the car was gone.

Police expected that, once the car thief realized the girl was in the backseat, they would abandon the car. Officers set up a grid search for the black Honda Civic, and went door to door asking for camera footage.

As the search pressed on, Portland police went to Oregon State Police to issue an Amber Alert. Police said tips flooded in after the alert at 10:35 p.m. About 50 Portland police employees worked to locate her.

They found the car a few miles away along the curb of Southeast Laurelhurst Place with the girl asleep inside at 10:45 p.m. She was reunited with her mother at the East Precinct office shortly after. No arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

“This was such a compelling story about how our members came together and coordinated a large-scale search,” Chief of Police Chuck Lovell said in a statement.

– Austin De Dios; adedios@oregonian.com; @austindedios; (503) 319-9744

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