A Belfast man has described how his 10-year-old daughter was left “shaking and squealing” after a car thief got into his vehicle while she was sitting in the passenger seat.
A man can be seen in CCTV footage getting into the car, before quickly exiting the vehicle, followed by Colin Ashwood’s daughter who runs into a shop.
The man then returns to the grey Seat Leon vehicle before speeding away.
Mr Ashwood shared dramatic CCTV footage of the incident, which took place at around 9.20pm at a Spar garage forecourt in the Tates Avenue area of south Belfast.
Mr Ashwood works in the garage and was stopping off on Tuesday evening for fuel having picked up his daughter from a nearby youth club.
He described how he had left his daughter in the car listening to the radio while he went into the store to pay for his petrol.
He explained he was at the till paying, when the young girl suddenly ran into the store crying.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Ashwood said: “I had turned the car off and left the keys in it. She was sitting listening to the radio.
“I put fuel in the car and went into the shop and was at the tills and she came running in squealing saying: ‘Daddy, daddy – someone is stealing the car.
“By the time I got out to the car he had sped away. It is just the way he walks up to the car, gets in and then sees my daughter in the passenger seat before jumping out and running away.
“But then he comes back again. In my eyes he was coming to take the car whether she was there or not.
“My daughter came in shaking and squealing and crying.
“The first thing I did was run out and then came back, as soon as he pulled away and sped around the roundabout the police came round the corner, so I flagged them down.
“They took all the details, but I haven’t heard anything back yet regarding the car.”
Mr Ashwood explained the incident has left his young daughter traumatised.
“All last night has just been making sure my daughter is OK,” he added.
“I don’t think it has quite set in yet, I think she is still a bit shocked. She didn’t go down until late last night.
“It is just the fact someone would do that, he had no masks or hat on no gloves on, he just walked past, an opportunist.
“I don’t know who he was and I don’t know if he has been watching the garage waiting on an opportunity. I am just not sure.”
The PSNI said it is are investigating the incident.
PSNI Sergeant Adams said: “It was reported that a grey Seat Leon was taken from the forecourt of a petrol station in the Tates Avenue area of the city.
“A male was seen approaching the vehicle from the direction of Olympia Drive, and making off in it in the direction of Glenmachan Street.
“The suspect has been described as being approximately 5ft 10ins in height, of slim build, and with light brown / ginger hair.
“He was said to be dressed in a grey top and blue bottoms.
“Enquiries are ongoing, and I am appealing to anyone who witnessed this incident, or who may have any information which could assist police, to call 101, quoting reference number 1782 of 11/01/22.
“A report can also be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport
“Alternatively, information can be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”