ST. LOUIS — "I got in as soon as he got in," Tyrone Hayes said.
Early Monday, Hayes and his family got the scare of their lives outside his grandchildren's day care in north St. Louis.
The Guardian Angel Child Care Center is located near north Vandeventer and Cook avenues.
"I was terrified. I really was," Hayes said.
He said around 7 a.m. he was dropping off his three grandchildren at the day care when a masked man suddenly hopped out of a white Chevy Impala and hopped in his daughter's Volkswagen Atlas.
"He jumped right in the front seat," the granddad said as he recalled the incident.
The stranger suddenly started driving off with the car with Hayes partially inside and his 9-month-old granddaughter, Amanda, in the back seat in her car seat. The incident happened in the day care's parking lot.
"I held on to the seat and I held on to the baby's seat," Hayes said.
The 59-year-old grandpa said he repeatedly pleaded to the would-be car thief.
"I said man look, it's a baby back there. I said let me get this baby out and you can take the vehicle," Hayes said.
The guy finally stopped.
However, when Hayes grabbed his grandbaby, the thief sped off in his daughter's car, despite having the key fob.
Police found the stolen car the next day, several miles away in Florissant in north St. Louis County.
"Now, that was a surprise. The car was not running at the time, but I believe he was able get away because the key fob was in my pocket and I was close by the car," Hayes said.
"I was also surprised by that. I'm now talking to Volkswagen about how that could happen. I thought the car was to immediately shut off after getting no more than 50-feet from us," J'Sia Jackson-Hayes, the baby's mother, said.
Hayes' daughter trailed her dad to the daycare and rode separately in her second vehicle.
She did not know what happened until her 2018 Volkswagen was gone.
"It was very terrifying to know that people actually can just sit out there and just plot on parents dropping off their kids at a daycare. I know I had seen that guy and three others sitting in that same white Impala in the daycare's parking lot for the last two to three weeks," Jackson-Hayes said.
So, after the family's scare, police want to remind parents that no matter where you are, always be alert and keep your eyes open at all times.
"I would tell people just remember to be extra careful," Hayes said.
"I am definitely now going to pay more attention to my surroundings and not leave my purse in the car. I'm just glad my baby and dad are safe," Jackson-Hayes said.
Baby Amanda was sound asleep during her family's frightening encounter.
"Yep, she slept the whole time. Bless her heart," Amanda's mother said.
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