An unnamed father on Monday saw a stranger drive off in the pickup truck he’d left idling with his toddler son strapped in the backseat.
The incident went down near 173rd Street and Grevillea Avenue in Lawndale.
"By the time I got to the top of the stairs, I heard the car door slam," the father said, requesting anonymity. "I came running, but there was no way I could catch it."
LA Sheriff’s officials confirm the panicked dad called 911. Deputies soon spotted the stolen vehicle, arrested the driver and re-united the family.
Multiple charges are now pending against 21-year-old Christopher Smith.
"It's definitely going to be taking a vehicle without owners' consent," said Sgt. Paul Schuerger, South LA Sheriff’s Station. "I don't know if the deputies are going to charge the suspect with kidnapping or not."
Investigators say the boy was unharmed and unaware, but emphasize that this fortunate ending is a cautionary tale to never leave a child in a car.
"My heart dropped. I, complete shock. Complete nervous breakdown," the father said. "I never worried about anything so much in my life, watching my son get stolen from my car."