Three young Northland men usually known to police for all the wrong reasons turned heroes instead when they broke into a parked car to rescue a baby left locked inside.

Sergeant Peter Masters, of Paihia police, said the 14-month-old girl had been left inside a car next to the playground on Marsden Rd while her father was in town on Tuesday afternoon. Two of the windows were slightly open to let in air but the day had turned hot and sunny.

Mr Masters said the three Waitangi youths, aged between 16 and 22, were concerned to see a baby alone in a car so asked staff at the hotel across the road if the child belonged to a guest. Hotel staff, however, did not know the vehicle or the child.

After waiting for what they said was half an hour for the baby's parents to show up, and becoming increasingly concerned about the rising temperature, they forced their way into the car and took the baby to the hotel.

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Staff called police and looked after the baby until her father, a 23-year-old man from Kaikohe, was located.

Mr Masters said the three young rescuers had colourful histories and regular contact with the police, but he was grateful to them for acting on their concerns for the baby's safety.

''The child was quite content and there were no immediate concerns for her well-being, but you just don't leave children in that situation,'' he said.

The girl was returned to extended family. Child, Youth and Family had been notified and police were considering laying charges related to leaving a child without supervision.

It is understood the same three youths had dealings with the police on a different, less heroic matter on the same day in Paihia.