3-year-old girl safe after car she was in stolen from Hickory Walmart

HICKORY, N.C. — A 3-year-old girl was found safe after the car she was in was stolen late Monday night from a Hickory Walmart, police said.

It happened just before 9 p.m. at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on U.S. Highway 70 Southwest.

Officials told Channel 9's Dave Faherty the girl's father was pumping gas and walked over to the outdoor cashier to pay when the suspects pulled up in a dark blue Volkswagen Jetta, a passenger jumped out, got into the man's Honda Accord and drove away with the child in the backseat. The crime took less than 30 seconds.

(WATCH BELOW: Surveillance video captures thief stealing car with child inside)

Police in Hickory searched for nearly an hour before a Longview police officer spotted the stolen vehicle along 33rd Street Southwest.

“I’m out with that grey Honda from Hickory,” an officer told dispatch.

“10-4. That’s it. Do you know if there’s a child in it?” the dispatcher said.

“10-8. I’ve got the child here in the back seat,” the officer said.

It was parked in someone's driveway with only the little girl inside and the suspect who stole the car was gone.

Channel 9 was there for the emotional moment the girl was reunited safely with her mother, yelling out "Mommy, mommy, mommy!"

The mother was at work when the abduction happened.

“I was in shock,” the mother told Channel 9 the next day.

She described the moment she was reunited with her daughter.

“I was happy and emotional at the same time,” she said.

Francine Duell, who sometimes babysits the girl, and is thankful the child wasn’t hurt.

She believes what happened is a lesson for all parents.

“You don’t leave a child in a car by themselves,” Duell said. “I don’t care if you are running into get gas.   That’s crazy, come on now.”

No arrests have been made.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.

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