A horrified father saw his daughter snatched right before his eyes last night, when a man stole his car with the child inside. Six-year-old Beatrice Felicia had accompanied her father to what they believed was a meeting to sell the family car at around 6.30pm yesterday.
But the girl’s distraught father instead watched the prospective buyer ‘jump’ into his Volkswagen in Leyton, East London, and drive away with Beatrice still sitting in the back seat.
The incident prompted a city-wide hunt by police which lasted nearly three hours. Beatrice was eventually found ‘safe and well’ in the local area just after 9pm. Police said no arrests had yet been made and the suspect was still at large last night.
Although it is understood the man intended to steal the car, it is believed that he did not realise the seller’s daughter was sitting in the back. It is thought the youngster, who is of Romanian origin, was abandoned when he realised she was there. Officers said she was found by her grandmother.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman added: ‘At this stage it is not known how and where Beatrice got out of the car, nor the exact location where she was seen by her grandmother. ‘Neither Beatrice nor her grandmother speak English. They will be spoken to by police officers in due course.’
Beatrice’s father, who was not identified last night, had arranged to meet the potential buyer near a Jet petrol station on Leyton High Road, around two miles north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.