A father's worst nightmare came true when he discovered his car, with his sleeping two-year-old son in the backseat, had been stolen.
On Sunday (8 January) at around 3:45 pm local time in Victoria, Australia, the father had just taken his son for a drive in his grey Volkswagen Tiguan when the car was stolen.
He had arrived at the shop and was considering buying some ice cream when he decided not to wake his peacefully sleeping son in the back seat.
The father left the car running so his son could stay cool in the air conditioning and quickly went to do his shopping, remaining within 30 meters of the car. However, another man took the opportunity to steal the car while the father was away.
According to the police, the suspect had been watching the car before stealing it, but it is believed he was not aware that the child was inside when he took the vehicle.
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Grant Lewis commented on the incident in a statement saying: "(He has) stolen that vehicle, driven about 350m through the rear of the Chelsea shops before he's obviously realized there's a child in the vehicle."
Upon realizing the theft, the father ran to a nearby kebab shop to seek help.
An employee, Christopher Hall, of 9NEWS, recounted the situation to 9NEWS saying: "This guy just rushed into the store, he seemed visibly panicked, stressed, he was on the phone."
Thankfully, the man who stole the car stopped after realizing that a two-year-old child was in the backseat, but he did not return the car.
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Grant Lewis said: "He's then stopped the car, put the child on the side of the road ... and driven off erratically southbound on Nepean Hwy towards Frankston."
The child was rescued by members of the public who noticed him on the side of the busy road and stopped to call the police.
The child was not injured but was clearly shaken and upset. Police emphasized how fortunate it was that the child did not move before being rescued.
"He remained where he was, but he was very distraught," Lewis said. "A 30°C day with lots of cars and lots of traffic. You'd hate to think what could have happened".
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant has stated that authorities will not press charges against the father for leaving the child alone in the car.
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Lewis did describe the incident as serious and added: "We don't want to victim shame or victim blame, but clearly in future, we've got to be mindful ... We need to secure our vehicle and keep our kids safe."
The father described the incident as "horrifying" and warned others not to make the same mistake he did.
The suspect who stole the car has not yet been apprehended by the police.