A DAD watched in horror as his three children were ‘kidnapped’ by a car thief outside their home.

Zahid Rajput had left the youngsters, aged eight, seven and 10 months, asleep in the back of a black Mercedes A Class outside his home in Hall Lane, Farnworth, for just a few moments when the drama unfolded.

CCTV footage shows how, out of nowhere, a man comes running to the car, which has keyless entry, and speeds away - with Khadlijah, Muhammad Ahad Nazir, and baby Ayesha, still in the back.

Mr Rajput, in a panic, ran after the car but fell in the middle of the road.

He then got into his wife’s Toyota Yaris and attempted to follow the Mercedes - but had no idea which direction the thief drove off in.

The 37-year-old, of Hall Lane, managed to flag down a passing police car to continue the hunt.

He says the car was found a short while later abandoned in Farnworth town centre - with the three children alone inside, shaken but unhurt.

The family has been left in shock following the incident, and is receiving specialist support from police.

Mr Rajput said: “I’m not able to sleep at night because I need to protect my kids. I’m terrified the person is going to come back to our house.

“I would considering selling the house and moving elsewhere but it’s just not possible in the current climate.

“The police are saying they don’t think it was targeted but I don’t believe that.

“My street is a dead-end street - why would anyone randomly come down there at that time?”

Mr Rajput had travelled back from a family gathering in Blackburn before the incident.

He has been so alarmed by what happened he has been staying with family ever since.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “At around 2.45am on Tuesday, July 27, police were called to a report of an attempted car theft on Hall Lane, Farnworth, Bolton.

“Enquiries have established a man entered and drove off with the vehicle after it was stationary by the side of the road.

“The car was also occupied by three children who remained inside throughout. The car was driven off and abandoned shortly after.

“Upon police arrival, the children present in the vehicle were returned safely to their parents. There were no injuries.”

No arrests have been made in connection with the attempted car theft and enquiries are ongoing.

Det Chief Insp Paul Rollinson added: “This is a shocking incident and the family are being supported by specialist officers.

“We want to reassure the public our enquiries indicate this is an isolated incident of an intended theft.

“We’re now appealing as someone may have information that may be able to assist us with our on-going investigation.

“Anyone who may have seen anything, has any information or has dash-cam footage is asked to contact us.”

Those with information can report it online quoting incident 253 of July 25 calling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.