Police and federal agents in the United States and Canada are searching for a family, probably from Brooklyn, whose infant child was discovered locked in a safe in a hotel room on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls on Tuesday.
Canadian police said the family appeared "very distraught" that the baby, described as being between 6 months and 1 year old, had been locked in the floor safe in their room -- and had contacted hotel staff to get the child out.
Det. Sgt. Scott Kraushar, in charge of Canada's Niagara Regional Police Service Child Abuse Unit, said Wednesday that the infant was not old enough to have crawled into the safe on its own and said authorities were trying to determine whether the incident was accidental or criminal. "We're not anticipating charges at this time," Kraushar said, "but certainly we are interested in verifying the welfare of the infant."
Kraushar said authorities are fairly certain of the identities of the family involved, saying they were with a group who had used a credit card to rent three rooms at the Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls on Victoria Avenue in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The hotel is about a block from Niagara Falls.
He said the guests were traveling in a rented gray 2015 Ford 15-passenger van with the New Jersey license plate B31 EUB.
He said U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as the NYPD and State Police and Canadian law enforcement agencies, have all been alerted that the family is wanted for questioning.
He said records indicate the family had not attempted to return to the United States as of yesterday morning.
The baby's gender was unknown and it was unclear whether the child was hurt.
Kraushar said it was unclear whether other children were in the room.
He described the safe as "a floor safe, not your typical hotel room safe" and said it was at least 1 foot by 1 foot.
Police are asking anyone who spots the rental van or knows the whereabouts of the family to call their local law enforcement agency.
Anonymous tips also can be sent to police at niagaratips.com or texted to 274637 (CRIMES), keyword Niagara.
Asked what he thought of the incident, Kraushar said: "This is a new one for me."