A North Carolina mom was frantic while speaking to a 911 dispatcher after a stranger jumped into the family’s SUV and drove off with her two children in the backseat.
The July 3 ordeal started just after a man stepped out of the SUV to help his wife load their newly purchased items around 8:30 p.m., according to audio from a 911 call provided by the Burlington Police Department.
Officials say a stranger ran to the the family’s silver 2015 Ford Explorer and drove off from the parking lot of a Burlington shopping center.
A 9-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl were in the vehicle, according to police.
“The hatch was wide open when the suspect drove off and all of their belongings including their lawn chairs fell out all over the parking lot,” WFMY reports.
Officers say they aren’t sure whether the man knew the children were in the back seat. During their ride, he asked about their mom’s purse, prompting an answer from the 10-year-old, according to the 911 call obtained by McClatchy.
“She said, ‘I’ll tell you where her pocketbook is if you let us out,’” the mom told dispatchers.
The girl knew there wasn’t a purse in the car and was “smart enough” to use that as a way to distract the driver, WFMY reports, adding the kids jumped out of the car when it slowed down.
A witness a few minutes later brought the children safely back to Academy Sports, where the ordeal started, according to police.
The SUV was found abandoned in Burlington on July 4, authorities say. Police are still searching for the man who took it.
During the 911 call, the mom can be heard telling the children: “Y’all are safe. That is all that matters. The car, I don’t care about the car.”