A mother is demanding answers after her 3-year-old son escaped from his kindergarten unnoticed by staff and walked alone across a busy Tauranga road.
Alfie Jones decided he wanted shoes from home on Friday afternoon so, while the other children at Tauranga South Free Kindergarten were napping, he dragged a chair to the front door and opened it.
The high-needs preschooler then opened the gate and walked to busy Cameron Rd.
There he waited for the "green man" to appear at the controlled pedestrian crossing before crossing the road and continuing his walk home on 23rd Ave about 500m from the kindergarten.
Mother Vicki Jones was in her lounge when she heard a rattle at the front gate about 2.15pm.
"Hello mum, I'm home," said Alfie.
Ms Jones, who describes her son as "a handful", said she assumed he had been brought home.
Then she realised he had escaped and walked home on his own.
"I was furious," she said.
She went to the kindergarten to confront staff, by which time teachers were looking for him.
She was surprised her son's route was in clear view of the kindergarten.
"How long had he been missing for before they realised he was gone?"
Alfie had also safely navigated a high school carpark, bus bay and supermarket traffic.
Ms Jones withdrew her son from the kindergarten and laid a complaint with the Tauranga Region Kindergarten Association.
The association and the Ministry of Education are investigating.
Alfie is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiance disorder and has Asperger's syndrome.
"That's the hard thing. You say autism to someone and they think of someone slow but they're not. They are very clever.
"He (Alfie) is very clever, very cunning. He would have been planning that escape for weeks."
Ms Jones said kindergarten staff were aware of her son's behavioural issues and it made her more concerned that he was left unsupervised long enough to escape.
"Anything could have happened ... You drop your kid off at daycare and you trust that they will be fine."
Tauranga Region Kindergarten Association principal Peter Monteith confirmed the organisation was dealing with a complaint.
"We have put in place immediate steps to ensure that a repetition of Friday's event doesn't happen again," Mr Monteith said.
For more articles from this region, go to Bay of Plenty Times