NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A law on the books in Tennessee and 19 other states is the reason two parents face criminal charges for leaving their child unattended in a grocery store parking lot Wednesday night.

An Amber Alert was issued for the couple's 1-year-old son after 33-year-old Brandi Rhodes stole the car he was in from the Inglewood Kroger on Gallatin Pike, Metro Police said.

Police said that investigators believe the boy's parents had left the car unlocked and running with him in the back seat. He was found safe six hours later, but police are still looking for Rhodes.

"The second you walk away from that car, these people are watching and waiting. And most of the time, they don't know that there's a child in the backseat until they've already taken off," Director of KidsAndCars.org Amber Rollins said.

Police cited the two parents for misdemeanor child endangerment. According to Tennessee law, it's illegal to leave a child younger than seven unattended in a car if the conditions present a risk to the child's health or safety, the engine is running, or the keys to the vehicle are inside.

"This is a learning opportunity. This is an opportunity to bring awareness to this law and the reasons why it's so important," Rollins said. "It's not to be the parent police. It's not to ruin people's lives. But it's to protect children who can't protect themselves."

After an Amber Alert, the parents both face misdemeanor child endangerment charges after leaving that car, unlocked, and running in a grocery store parking lot. It made us ask the question, what law is on the books in Tennessee related to leaving children in cars?

According to its website, KidsAndCars.org is a nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of children and pets in and around motor vehicles. You can read more about their organization by clicking here.  

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