Thief steals car with two-year-old girl in back seat as desperate parents try to stop him

The hunt is on for a cruel thief who sped off in a family car with their two-year-old daughter still strapped in the back seat.

Police are appealing for information after a man took the Vauxhall Vectra as they unloaded their shopping despite the frightened toddler sitting in the back.

The girl has since been reunited with her terrified family after the car was eventually discovered three miles way.

The incident took place in Quarrington Hill, near Durham, at almost 7pm on Wednesday night.

The car with the unharmed youngster inside was found at Sherburn Beck, Ludworth, later that evening.

Police said the family had parked the car outside a relative’s house and dropped their shopping off.

They told officers a dark Nissan X-Trail pulled up in the street and jumped in their motor while the engine was running.

The man then ‘took off at speed’ as the distressed parents tried to stop him, the force said.

The family’s cat, which was also in the back of the car, has not yet been found.

Detective Inspector Malcolm Bell said: “This has been an extremely distressing incident for the family, who were terrified for the welfare of their child.”

Anyone with any information, dashcam or CCTV footage is asked to call 101.