A mum thought her daughter had been kidnapped after her car was stolen - with her three-year-old in the back seat.
Katy Hyde, 32, of South Elmsall, watched in horror as a man drove off in her car with little Leyla strapped in her car seat.
Mrs Hyde was on her way to a children’s party on Saturday morning. She put Leyla in the back of the car and left the keys in the ignition.
She quickly nipped next door to Sara Jones’ house, who was also going to the party. But when she came outside just seconds later, she saw the car driving away.
Mrs Hyde, who is four months’ pregnant, said: “At first I thought it was my husband, Mark, who had taken the car as his car had been in the garage so had been using mine. I called Mark straight away and but he said it wasn’t him driving.
“I just went into shock. I couldn’t speak or think. I was frantic. But I called the police. It was terrifying thinking someone had taken my daughter.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening. You hear stories about this type of thing but you never expect it to happen on your doorstep.”
Mrs Hyde went back to her home on Caddon Avenue while her friend Sara drove around looking for her car.
Ms Jones found it dumped in Frickley Country Park car park just under a mile away from their homes.
Leyla had been locked in the car and was crying hysterically.
With help from Ms Jones, the toddler managed to unlock the car from the inside.
She said: “Leyla was crying her eyes out, it was terrible. I ran over to her, grabbed her and fell to the floor. I was just so relieved to see her. She was still clutching the birthday card for the party.”
Since the incident, Mrs Hyde said her daughter is petrified of being in closed spaces.
She added: “I just want to warn people to be careful. It keeps upsetting me. I can’t sleep.
“I don’t like to think what could have happened, I’m just so happy now she is safe.”
Detectives are now hunting for the man who stole the car.
Witnesses said he was wearing a black baseball cap and dark coloured top.
He also stole Mrs Hyde’s purse, phone and cash.
Sgt Lee Carlson from the South East NPT said: “It appears this was an opportunistic theft where the car was abandoned when it was realised the child was on board, however the trauma and distress suffered by the family cannot be emphasized enough and we would be keen for any public assistance in identifying the suspect.”
Any information can be passed direct to the South East NPT on 101 or anonymously to crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.