DOVER — A 2-year-old boy found wandering alone in his neighborhood Monday morning was returned safe after a 90-minute search for his family, police said.
The incident unfolded at approximately 8 a.m. when Dover police officers were called to the area of Colony Drive after a resident located the child.
Spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman said officers learned the child’s first name, but couldn’t determine his parents’ names or where they lived.
Officers took the boy to the Dover police station, where he watched television in the department’s family room and played games with PD employees, authorities said.
Police continued to try identifying the boys’ parents, and said the father contacted authorities at 9:34 a.m.
“He explained what had happened and was very grateful for caring for his son,” Cpl. Hoffman said.
“Officers questioned him about the incident during the investigation.”
Dover PD had released a news item on its website and social media accounts, including a photo of the smiling boy with an officer in an attempt to locate the parents.
Further investigation found that the father returned home from a night work shift as his children were still sleeping, went to bed, and then awoke to find his son missing, Cpl. Hoffman said.
Police said the home’s doors were locked when the child woke up and left as his father and siblings slept. According to Cpl. Hoffman, authorities believe the boy unlocked a door and left the residence.
Investigation determined that no charges will be filed, police said.
Dover Police Department issued a statement thanking the public and media for quickly sharing the post, “enabling us to quickly contact the parent and bring a successful resolution to this case.”
Police said it was unknown how long the child was outside before being first located, but said it was at least 4 to 5 minutes.
Three other children were at the home at the time, and authorities said their ages were unavailable.
According to Cpl. Hoffman, the boy’s mother was at work when he went missing.
Police said the father awoke and learned of his missing son as a search began.
Authorities said Child Protective Services was notified, and consulted with the investigating officer along with speaking to the father.
The boy was located in his Bicentennial Village neighborhood, police said, and the distance from his own home was unavailable.
Cpl. Hoffman said the child’s arrival at Dover Police Department drew a lot of attention from staff and officers.
“Despite the dangers of the situation and obvious concern for the child and his parents, it is safe to say that (the boy) enjoyed his time at the police department,” he said.
“He was playing with toys, watching movies and just hanging out with some of our employees. He fit right in and we would welcome him back (with his parents) anytime.”
The boy was in good spirits during the entire incident, police said.
“(He) was very happy, well-mannered, and did not seem sad or scared at all,” Cpl. Hoffman said.
No charges were filed after the investigating officer questioned the father and spoke with Child Protective Services, police said.
Police offered this advice to parents regarding the general circumstances of the case:
“Quite simply: You can never go too far to child-proof your home, especially doors,” Cpl. Hoffman said.
“We see these situations in the news at times, such as the recent case where a 3- or 4-year old child took a bus in the middle of the night to get a Slurpee while her mother was asleep, but have rarely seen it in our area, if at all.
“Thankfully, this case came to a successful resolution, but goes to show the capabilities of a young child.”
Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at email@example.com