THE mother of a 10-month-old baby who was asleep in the back seat of the family car when it was stolen has insisted that the baby's father had just stepped out of the vehicle momentarily.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, told the Irish Independent that the baby boy's dad had only walked about 10 steps away from the car when an opportunist thief sat in and sped off.
The distraught parents immediately called the gardai and the stolen car was found abandoned a short distance away, with the infant still soundly asleep in his baby seat.
The thief stole the car from outside a house in the sprawling Avondale Park housing estate in Mulhuddart, north Dublin, at 9.45pm on Sunday as the baby's dad got out of the car to deliver a package to his partner.
"He did not leave him in the car. He just walked 10 steps away from the car. We were at the door waiting," the baby's mother said yesterday.
She said the father had not actually seen the thief but suddenly realised the car was in reverse and then it sped off.
He then ran after the car.
The car was located "about 10 minutes later", the mother said.
It was found abandoned in the nearby Castlecurragh housing estate, with the unharmed baby still sleeping in the rear.
Gardai are reviewing CCTV footage in the area in order to try to identify the car thief.
Residents of the Avondale Park estate spoke of their horror that a thief could steal a car with a sleeping baby inside.
One woman who witnessed the drama said: "The thief obviously didn't realise there was a baby on the back seat . . . I just couldn't believe it.
"It was terrible. The father ran and ran and ran. The mother was in a panic. I rang the guards and they had a load of cars out looking straight away.
"I'm really angry about what happened.
"The cheek of someone to do something like that . . . The audacity of it," she added.