COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A car thief caused some terrifying moments for a family in Colorado Springs after stealing a van with a baby inside. The baby’s father had left the van running in the driveway Wednesday night while he went back inside to check on his other children, KKTV reports. When he went back outside, the van was gone — and so was little Leo.

(credit: KKTV)

It only took a moment, his wife said. The family requested to remain anonymous.

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“He walked to the door threshold to yell to my adult son, ‘I’m leaving,’ you know, and lock the door,” Leo’s mother explained. “He was taking care of the other kids, so he walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving.’ And when he turned around, the van was gone.”

Leo’s mother was at work at the time and said her 10-year-old daughter called her crying.

“I told her, ‘Your dad’s on his way to pick me up. He’s the one that probably left in the van.’ And she said, ‘No, no, the van was stolen!’ And I was like, ‘Nooo.’ So I didn’t believe them at first,” KKTV quoted the mother as saying. “… I called my husband and he wasn’t answering, I called my son and he wasn’t answering, and then they called me back and told me, ‘Yes, the van was taken and the baby was in the back.'”

Leo’s mother said they left the job site and started driving around, looking everywhere for the van.

“A lot of things went through my mind. My heart is racing and we were speeding home at the same time looking, and I’m thinking, of course, the worst, you know. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get him that night. I wasn’t sure if they were going to take what they wanted and leave the baby in the car overnight. I wasn’t sure if we were going to find him,” Leo’s mother told KKTV.

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She said her husband was beside himself with fear and guilt.

“It was horrifying. My husband is driving around crying, knowing how he messed up and how he left [the van] running and how he didn’t lock the doors and how he didn’t take the keys out,” she said.

Twelve minutes later, police found the van abandoned on the side of the road with Leo still inside. It had been left just a half-mile from the family’s home.

“We were very thankful. [My sister] was driving around when she saw the cruiser speed right past her, and she followed them and she got to the car, and they ended up unbuckling the baby and giving him to her.”

Fortunately, the little boy was unharmed.

The van was stolen just before 6 p.m. Wednesday night from a neighborhood just southeast of Pikes Peak Avenue and South Academy. Anyone with information is asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department right away.

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Leaving a vehicle running while unattended, also known as puffing, accounts for a hefty percentage of stolen cars in Colorado Springs each year.