It was a frightening 15 minutes for a young Gatineau mother Thursday evening when her vehicle was stolen with her baby in the back.

It happened just before 8 o'clock last night at the corner of Rue Saint-Rosaire and Chemin de la Savane in Pointe Gatineau.

On Rue de Pointe Gatineau, it was a chaotic scene around 8:30 last night as Gatineau police recovered the woman's stolen van, abandoned along Rue de Pointe Gatineau with the baby still safely strapped in to the baby seat in the back.

“The thief had left the scene,” explains Sergeant Jean-Paul Le May with Gatineau Police, “but we are happy to see that the child was peacefully sleeping inside minivan.”

It all started about 400 metres away from where the minivan was found, just before 8 p.m. in Pointe Gatineau.  The woman had stepped out of her running minivan to talk on her cellphone. 

“While she was having conversation on phone, someone sneaked into the minivan and stole the vehicle,” Le May says.

Police say the woman wasn't very far away from her vehicle when she was on the phone.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw the van move and thought perhaps she hadn't put it in park but quickly realized that wasn't the case.

Panicked, she called 9-1-1, then stopped another car and tried to follow. 

Police say the thief drove the van down Chemin de la Savane, then abandoned it about 400 metres away at Rue de Pointe Gatineau.

“Je pense que c’est inhumane,” says a young woman walking in the area.

“Probably the guy must have been shocked,” adds Celine Desfonds, a crossing guard down the street, “probably he didn't notice there was a kid in there. It probably threw him off and that's why he took off running afterwards.”

Police are looking for a man in his mid-20's with brown hair, medium build wearing a blue/grey coat.  The mother and are fine and police add that there is no reason to suspect negligence on the part of the mother.

“There are no signs of negligence,” says Sgt. Le May, “We're talking here of a thief who had an opportunity and left with the car.”

Police say at this point, they are looking at the theft of a vehicle but they do want to talk to this young man to find out whether other charges may be in the works.