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Car stolen with baby inside, child unharmed but car still missing

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DENVER -- Denver Police were searching for a thief Friday night who stole a car Friday morning with a baby in the backseat.

That toddler went on a short, but wild ride and is safe at home now.

The baby’s father, Julio Romero, called 911 about 9:20 a.m. from his Green Valley Ranch home in the 18600 block of E. 46th Ave.

“I was going to leave with my daughter to the store and I realized it was really cold so I went inside my house. It took four to five seconds. I came out and my car was gone,” says Romero.

It was gone from his driveway, with 18-month-old Fatima inside. He says he then ran to the corner after the thief.

“I was just so worried about my daughter. I didn’t care about the car. I didn’t care about anything else. I just wanted to find my daughter,” says Romero.

And he did find her, moments later, he says about 30 feet away in her car seat on the sidewalk.

“Whoever stole the car, took the baby out of the car and put the baby on the curb a short distance away from where the car was stolen. The father was in hot pursuit, so the child wasn’t out on the curb very long,” says Denver Police Sgt. Steve Warneke.

But his black Toyota Matrix with Colorado plates 265-VOJ was nowhere to be found.

“All of a sudden my doorbell started ringing,” says neighbor Frank Edmonds who unsuccessfully helped Romero look for his car.

But instead, Romero may have found some legal trouble.

“Any time a child is left alone in a car and law enforcement is notified, they are going to look at child neglect charges,” says Sgt. Warneke.

“I don’t think he should have charges brought against him, absolutely not, he’s a good parent,” says Edmonds.

He’s a parent who hopes others can learn from his mistake.

He knows just a few seconds could have changed the course of his life.

“We were really scared … I’m not leaving my daughter out here, no matter what,” says Romero.

The family has a surveillance camera pointed to his front yard and driveway, but it was not working.

Police have no suspect description. If you see Romero’s car, call police.

As of Saturday morning, DPD said the stolen vehicle is still missing.