YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A city man who pleaded guilty in February to stealing a van with three children inside was sentenced Monday to at least five years in prison.

Judge Anthony Donofrio handed down the sentence of five to seven and a half years in prison in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to Abraham Jiminez-Zinquiz, 23, on charges of kidnapping and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Police said Jiminez-Zinquiz took a van about 2 a.m. Nov. 5, 2022, from the parking lot of the Circle K at Mahoning and Belle Vista avenues while the driver was inside the store and left the engine running. Also inside the van were three children, ages 10, 8 and 4.

Police said Jiminez-Zinquiz jumped in the van and drove away. Police were able to track the van to Argo Avenue on the lower West Side. The children were found with Jiminez-Zinquiz and unharmed.

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Trapp asked for a prison sentence of five to seven and a half years in prison. He said Jiminez-Zinquiz was “reckless” and the father of the children was “horrified” when he came out of the store and saw that his van was gone.

Jiminez-Zinquiz was also on probation at the time on a gun charge, Trapp said.

“When you steal a van, you deal with all the consequences,” Trapp said.

Defense attorney Walter Ritchie asked for a lesser sentence. He said his client has no serious criminal record other than the gun charge and a presentence report said his client has mental health issues and issues with cannabis abuse.

“He was probably high when he did it,” Ritchie said. “It’s a very impulsive thing to do and quite frankly, I don’t think he knew what to do when he found out the kids were in the van.”

Jiminez-Zinquiz apologized and said he would never hurt children.

“I was not going to harm the kids at all,” Jiminez-Zinquiz said. “I was trying to get the parents back to their kids as soon as possible.”

Judge Donofrio said he agreed with Trapp’s sentencing recommendation because Jiminez-Zinquiz was on probation at the time for a gun charge, which he said is a serious crime, and the fact he was under supervision by a court did nothing to curb his behavior.

“Imagine the horror those children went through,” Judge Donofrio said.