By Andrea Nakano

PITTSBURG (KPIX) — In Pittsburg Thursday evening, a woman stole a vehicle with a one-year-old girl in the back seat. Police investigators say the child was left in a running SUV while the father stepped out to talk with another man.

Fortunately the girl was found safe and is now home with her family after police acted quickly and didn’t wait for an Amber Alert to be issued before seeking the public’s help.

This was a case where an Amber Alert was issued almost two hours after the child was taken. Police officers with the Pittsburg police department knew there would be a delay in getting out the alert so they used another tool.

“An officer that was on scene actually did the Facebook post … within 30 minutes of the call coming out,” said Lt. James Terry with the Pittsburg police department.

Social media has become a valuable resource to crack cases.

“We have 19,000 followers on our Facebook page, last night’s posting was shared 2,700 times. It reached 122,000 people. That type of information — to be able to put that out within 30 minutes of a crime occurring — we found is the fastest way to disseminate information.”

Instead of going up the chain of command to release information, officers with the Pittsburg police department have been given the authority to release information through social media channels as soon as they can. Within minutes on Thursday, Pittsburg PD had much of the community on the lookout for a Chevy Tahoe and the little girl before the Amber Alert was issued.

Lt. James Terry says there may be a delay in issuing Amber Alerts but, when they do go out, they goes out to everyone versus a social media post that only reaches followers.

“They’re both avenues to use and we want to use as many avenues as possible. Public safety is our number one priority and getting the child back is our number one priority so we’re going to use every avenue possible,” Lt. Terry said.