Two children had a lucky escape after a car thief unwittingly robbed a vehicle while they were sitting in the back seat in Navan.
Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Dean Kerins is now urging all car-owners not to leave their keys in the ignition, even for a split second.
The drama unfolded at 4.30 last Wednesday afternoon at Abbeylands, Navan, when a car-owner left their car momentarily to get a parking ticket.
An opportune thief jumped into the vehicle and sped off, not knowing there were two young children in the back seat. The ages of the children are not known but thought to be quite young.
The thief stopped the car a short distance away and dumped the children at the side of the road before driving off at high speed.
Thankfully both children were alright and the car was found abandoned near Kentstown.
"You may think you're only running out of the car for a minute but a split second is all a thief needs to take a car and there's always someone on the look-out, watching for an opportunity.
"The ticket machine was literally right beside the car and yet a thief saw his chance and took it.
"Every year, we come across incidents of car theft after the owner has left the keys in the ignition at filling stations, while going to pay for petrol or get a coffee.
"Thankfully the children were alright in this incidence but we would appeal to all drivers not to leave their cars unattended at all."
Sgt Kerins added that the number of similar car-thefts increased in winter months when owners would start their cars to defrost them in the mornings and leave the car unattended the engine running.