ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota's AMBER Alert system for finding kidnapped children worked well in its first test, public safety officials said, even if it wasn't a factor in the capture of two teen-agers who allegedly stole a minivan with a baby inside.
"This worked the way it was envisioned to work," said Michael Campion, superintendent of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The BCA activated the new alert system Wednesday evening, less than half-hour after learning a baby left in an idling minivan had been kidnapped outside a St. Cloud liquor store. But it was old-fashioned police work that reunited 9-month-old Alexander Houge with his mother rather than the new system.
Under an AMBER Alert, the BCA releases information about suspected kidnappings of children 17 years old or younger to the news media, law enforcement agencies and businesses, such as gas stations and convenience stores around the state.
According to St. Cloud police, the baby's mother, Julie Ann Houge, 32, Waite Park, called police at 8:50 p.m.
At 9:31 p.m. police called the BCA. By 9:58 p.m., according to Janell Rasmussen, state administrator of the alert system, news of the child's disappearance was being faxed over the Minnesota Crime Alert Network to 9,000 locations.
Rasmussen said that under the best conditions, it takes "about four minutes" to get an AMBER Alert report out.
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