Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Teens stole car with 3-year-old girl inside

The 3-year-old girl who was inside a car stolen from a West Auckland supermarket last night is afraid of going outside in case "the baddies" come, her father says.

Two teens stole the car from Countdown in Mt Roskill about 7pm. The teens pulled the girl's grandmother and 11-year-old brother out of the car and took off with the girl in the back.

The stolen car crashed into a kerb within blocks of the supermarket shortly after 7pm while police staff and the police's Eagle helicopter were moving in on it.

Officers were quickly able to track the offenders - who had jumped over a fence and ran across nearby properties - and arrest them.

The girl's father and mother had only been inside the supermarket for about 10 to 15 minutes when the incident occurred.

"It was a horrible moment for me," the father said. "I was terrified

"There were so many things running through my mind: Will my daughter be okay? Will I see my daughter again?

"I didn't know what was going to happen."

The girl's brother tried to stop the teens from driving off but hurt himself in the process, the father said.

"I'm so proud of boy. He's only 11 years old. He was so brave."

Members of the public saw the car take off and followed it. They contacted police and came back to the supermarket to give statements last night.

"I am so grateful to everyone who helped return our daughter safely to us," the father said.

The girl was crying "hardout" throughout the whole ordeal and couldn't get to sleep last night, he said.

"She said she didn't want to outside again because she's worried the baddies will come.

"We were all relieved but emotional last night. None of us got much sleep last night."

The father doubted the family would return to the Countdown again.

"It just doesn't feel safe now."

Auckland City Police acting district commander Jill Rogers said incredible teamwork between members of the public and police ensured a potentially devastating incident was resolved quickly and that the child, who was unharmed, was safely reunited with her family.

"This incident could have had a much more disastrous outcome if it hadn't been for the quick-thinking actions of the members of the public who assisted in directing police and we are very grateful for everyone's efforts."

The youths, aged 13 and 15, appeared in the Auckland District Court's youth court this morning on charges of kidnapping, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, wilful damage and assault with intent to rob.

They will appear again next Thursday.

- NZ Herald

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