FORDHAM — Cops are hunting a man they say unwittingly abducted a 7-month-old girl who was in the back seat when he stole a silver Jeep Tuesday night.
The baby, Ayanna, was recovered unharmed along with the Jeep.
"She was good," said family friend Krystal Guzman, who saw Ayanna after the incident. "She was giggling and biting her toes and licking her fingers. She was just fine.''
The horror began when the baby's parents pulled their silver 2005 Jeep Cherokee up to a cellphone store on East Kingsbridge Road, near Morris Avenue, about 6:30 p.m., according to the NYPD.
The father — whom sources identified as 27-year-old Pattrick Julbe — stepped into the shop, leaving the mother and daughter in the vehicle, cops said.
When Julbe tried to show the mother a piece of merchandise from the window of the store, however, she stepped out as well, leaving the baby and keys behind, police said.
That's when the quick-moving thief leaped in and raced off, police said.
The mother shrieked when she realized what happened, witnesses said.
"She was screaming, 'They stole my baby!'" said a 55-year-old neighbor Richard Martinez.
Another friend at the scene summoned Guzman, who lives nearby.
"I started running," said Guzman, 27. "It was scary. I thought something was gonna happen to the baby."
When she finally arrived, Guzman said she found Ayanna's parents deeply distraught.
"They were both hysterical," Guzman said. "They are responsible parents. They love her. They would never put her at harm."
About 20 minutes after stealing the Jeep, the suspect tried to park it in a nearby parking garage but was unable, police said. It was unknown why he couldn't.
But security cameras there captured him wearing a black-and-white shirt with horizontal stripes, jeans, and a baseball cap.
The Jeep was ultimately recovered at Goble Place and Jerome Avenue, about two miles south of where it was stolen, police said.
"I'm glad he had a conscience," Guzman said. "He must've seen there was a baby in there and said, 'What did I just do?'"
The child appeared to be unharmed, but was taken to Montefiore Medical Center for observation, cops said.
Though Ayanna appeared fine, her parents are still rattled, Guzman said.
"They're nervous," she said. "They can't believe it happened to them."
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or to visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.