A ROTORUA woman has told how her grandson arrived at her house with a baby in his arms, just moments after she'd seen on Facebook that a child was missing.
The 18-month-old went missing from his home in Koutu, overnight Monday as his parents were sleeping. They woke to find a light on and saw their son was gone about 2am.
The toddler's mother ran to her father's home nearby and they called police. The toddler's father posted a picture on social media and the parents and their families hit the pavement in search of the boy.
Meanwhile, a woman at another Rotorua home was looking at the picture of the child online.
"I was just hopping onto Facebook and having a browse through and see this baby missing and I'm thinking 'oh you poor darling'," the woman told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"Then my daughter comes in and says, 'Mum there's a baby here' and I said to her, 'A what?' And I was like 'Oh my god, that's the baby on Facebook'.
"I got up and said 'You better ring the police and let them know'.
"I saw my grandson holding the baby. He's a grandson I don't have a lot to do with."
The woman said she gave the child a wipe down with a face cloth and got him some of her daughter's baby's clothes and called police.
"Meanwhile the parents are probably pulling their hair out.
"We don't even know the baby's family. It was so sad."
The family were reunited with their son at 8.15am yesterday, and police said yesterday afternoon a 17-year-old, who was not known to the family, had been charged and would appear in the Rotorua District Court today.
The toddler's dad said his reaction when his son was taken was complete shock and he didn't know what to do.
"It doesn't happen very often, the police told me that in all of their experience, 20 years-plus, they'd never heard of anyone breaking in to take somebody's kid.
"For me, personally, I like to keep to myself a lot and be good to people so they're good back.
"That's why it feels so random that this would happen, even though I'm a good person to people, I've never had beef or problems with anybody so why would this happen to me?"
He went into search mode not long after his son went missing and posted an appeal for help on Facebook.
"I wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing posting on Facebook, but I had about 1500 shares within an hour or two and I had people ringing from all over the show which was pretty cool to see that the community would come together like that."
The father said his home was yesterday off-limits as it was a crime scene, but he wasn't sure how he felt about returning.
"[My house] has a funny feeling to it. When your house gets broken into there's always that funny aura that is left, but I don't know, we will see how these next couple of days go."
He said it was a huge relief to see his son again.
"I just gave him a big hug, he just seemed like the same old, happy to see mum and dad, he was a happy as little chap."
Family and friends, who had originally taken the day off to help search, gathered at the boy's grandparent's house to welcome him after he had been given the all-clear at Rotorua Hospital.
His grandfather said it all happened very fast.
"I got a call at 2am on our landline and I didn't answer it. But I heard a knock on my window after and I looked outside and it was my daughter and she said: '[My son] has been taken dad'.
"They found the light on. Before they go to bed they turn the light off and lock the doors. [The father] got up to see what had happened, thinking the house had been burgled, to find that his son had been taken out of his cot.
"It's a natural instinct to go searching the streets.
With the initiative between the two families... we put a flyer out and just did what we could."
When the grandfather received a phone call saying the toddler had been found tears of joy streamed down his face as he ran to his car to join his family at the police station.
"Thank you to friends that have picked up on my missing grandson and ... my daughter and [her partner] were hugely relieved."
He said it was a parent's worst nightmare come true.
"It was absolutely a random thing. We didn't realise that we were going to get such good news so early. It was a perfect finish to the day.
"It gives you an indication of how good the family really is at the end of the day and whenever you're in a crisis of this calibre you realise how it's important to be around each other."