A quick stop at a Long Island deli turned into a nightmare for a mother who left her daughters sleeping in the backseat when a car thief jumped in and took the girls for a wild ride.
The 33-year-old mother left the car running when she went into a deli on Nassau Road near Hudson Avenue in Roosevelt at about 11:10 p.m., authorities said and surveillance video shows.
The mother’s 17-year-old and 6-year-old daughters were inside the car sleeping, police said.
The suspect then got into the driver’s seat and drove away as the two girls slept in the backseat.
The mother broke down inside the store when she realized what happened.
"She was just balled up in a corner here on the floor, crying with her head in her hands, talking about 'my babies, my babies,'" said customer Jim Brown, who was inside the deli with the mother.
Surveillance cameras captured images of the person who stole the car: he stumbles, as if intoxicated, as he walks past the idling car, then jumps behind the wheel and takes off.
It's unclear if the thief knew the girls were in the backseat but at some point they woke up and realized their mother was not driving the car. They were were able to safely jump out as it slowed down in Freeport and stopped a passing motorist to help them, police said. They suffered minor bruises and were treated at an area hospital.
The car was located by police in Freeport, but the suspect is still at large, police said. The mother will not face charges.