A MOTHER screamed in horror as a thief drove away in a car while her four-month-old baby sat on the back seat.
Lisa Binks, 39, had stopped to move wheelie bins and recyclables from the road on Stour Avenue in Rainhill when the crook pounced.
As Lisa, a primary school teacher, got out of her Peugeot 308, the carjacker jumped in and drove away, with baby Archy still inside.
Her screams alerted neighbours and the baby’s father, Simon Brown.
Police were called and following a frantic search Archy was found in the abandoned car in nearby Severn Road by his uncle, John Hughes, some 15 minutes later.
Archy was unharmed but crying loudly – and he was swiftly united with Lisa and Simon, 45.
The thief escaped with her red handbag, which contained a Samsung Galaxy II phone on which there are treasured photographs of Archy enjoying his first Christmas.
Speaking to the St Helens Star, the parents said they believe the bins had been left as a deliberate trap by the thief.
Lisa, who is currently on maternity leave, said: “I was driving back from my parents’ house when I came across the bins that were blocking my path.
“As I got out of the car I noticed a man appear who walked by. He looked straight at me and for a few seconds I thought he was going to help.
“He had his hood up and just walked by. So I moved the bins and as I did so I heard the engine of the car rev and as I turned he drove off at high speed.
“I just started screaming: ‘You have got my child, you have got my child’ and tried to run after the car.
“As I screamed the neighbours came out on to the street and tried to get information from me - and they contacted my family and the police.
“It was like time just stood still. I couldn’t even think of my registration number – the emotions took over.
“Thankfully my partner did think and wanted to do something. He called my phone and it rang out. The second time it was switched off.
“I think it was that that made the thief realise Archy was in the back of the car.
“When John phoned to say he had been found. We just ran as fast as we could and then I could see my little boy in the car.
“I just held him and didn’t let him go. He has had plenty of hugs and cuddles.
“In the end we feel lucky. It could have been worse - Archy could have been hurt because the car was being driven at speed – and I could have been run over – because I would have dived in front of the car if possible.
“I would urge people to be careful – it only takes seconds for a thief to steal the car.”
Simon, a helpdesk supervisor based at Pilkington’s Cowley Hill plant, added: “When I found Lisa screaming my first instinct was to go chasing after the thief and to find Archy.
“But she was frantic and relatives and neighbours who were out on the street told me I must stay and support her.
“It was a terrifying experience – I can’t describe the relief we felt.
“However, there are pictures on the phone that we will probably never see again. It is a sad reflection of the society we live in.
“If anyone has information or saw anything they should contact the police to make sure this lowlife doesn’t do the same to another family.
“Our family has been shook up by this and I want everyone to be aware of the traps set by these people.
“As well as bins, they have been known to use prams or anything else they can get their hands on.
“If it makes people think and saves just one family going through what we are experiencing it will be worthwhile.”
The theft happened at about 5.20pm on Tuesday, January 8.
Police are investigating and officers have examined CCTV and conducted enquiries with nearby residents.
The car will also be forensically examined.
At this stage of the inquiry, police said it is unclear whether the bins were deliberately placed in the road, or had been left there after a refuse collection.
Witnesses described the offender as in his early 20s, clean shaven, with a slim build.
He was wearing a black wool or fleece hooded top with white lettering on the front and black. He is thought to have short brown hair cut in a crew cut with short spikes.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner said: "Even though the car and baby were found a short time later, those few minutes must have been extremely traumatic for the mother of this child.
"I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident to come forward, so we can bring this offender to justice.
"I would also like to remind all residents not to keep their cars running for any reason. Always lock your car and remove the keys from the ignition, even if you are only leaving the car for a few seconds.
"It is tempting to leave keys in the car, if you are running into the house or even defrosting your windscreen.
“Car theft is opportunistic and by leaving the car running you are giving thieves the perfect opportunity to take your car or your belongings."
Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact 0151 777 6881 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.