x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Frantic 7-hour search after UAE car thieves steal baby by mistake

Parents distraught for seven hours, then month-old child found after hundreds respond to Twitter alert by police.

Baby Lailas reunited with her parents after her ordeal.  Courtesy Sharjah Police Department
Baby Lailas reunited with her parents after her ordeal. Courtesy Sharjah Police Department

SHARJAH // A baby girl who was in the back of a car when it was stolen was reunited with her parents yesterday after a frantic seven-hour search.

The month-old girl, Lailas, was in the white Toyota Prado when it was taken in the Santsaiya 6 area on Saturday night, after her parents left the car's engine running to "quickly" get something from a shop.

But within two minutes, according to the parents, the car and baby were gone.

"At 9.52pm we received the call, then sent out patrols to search the area," said Maj Mohamed Al Shihi, head of the public relations section at Sharjah police.

Officers put out a Twitter alert, which was quickly retweeted by more than 1,700 people, including hundreds of Sharjah residents, in Arabic and English.

Among those who retweeted it was Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister.

Within hours, Ahmed Ibrahim Al Shamsi, an Emirati from Sharjah, contacted police on Twitter to say he had spotted the stolen car.

And at 5am it was found in Muwailah, a few kilometres from where it was stolen, with Lailas safe inside.

"The baby was taken immediately to Al Qassimi hospital where she was found to be in good health," Maj Al Shihi said.

The family were reunited in time for Eid prayers at 6.12am.

"We would really like to thank all those who responded to us through Twitter and Ahmed Ibrahim Al Shamsi for helping us," Maj Al Shihi said.

It was the biggest response Sharjah police had received to an online alert. "We received a lot of calls, of people thinking they saw the car, people who wanted to help, we had a lot of help," he said. At one point, police even had to quash a false rumour that the car had been found.

"So many people cared this time, more than before, because yes it is just a car, but a baby was in it," he said. Maj Al Shihi said the parents "should have taken more care and not left the baby alone in the car".

No one has been arrested in connection with the car theft.