A 28-year-old car thief pleaded guilty Monday and was immediately sentenced to three years in prison for stealing a vehicle with two children inside in Santa Ana.

Nicole Elizabeth Johnson pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft with a prior felony conviction of stealing a vehicle. As part of the plea deal, two felony counts of kidnapping were dismissed.

Johnson was given credit for 140 days in jail awaiting trial.

Johnson stole the 2018 Lexus RX 350 on Nov. 2 at 2202 S. Oak St., according to police testimony at her preliminary hearing.

A mother had left the vehicle idling in a driveway with a 2-year-old and 1-year-old in the backseat as she dashed in to a friend’s home to drop something off, police said. When she came out, the car was leaving, police said.

The mom gave chase but could not keep pace, and implored a man on a bicycle to keep following the vehicle, police said.

An arrest was quickly made about three blocks away, police said.

Johnson also pleaded guilty to two counts of car theft in July 2016 and pleaded guilty to burglary in February of 2016.

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