CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)– It was two weeks ago in front of a convenience store on East Delavan Avenue, surveillance video shows the moment Felicia Richardson headed into the store, a car thief approached while her eight-year-old son was still inside.

“And he was rummaging or looking in the car and Jeremiah knew something wasn’t right and the guy told him to get out,” said Felicia Richardson who had her car stolen in Cheektowaga.

Jeremiah ran into the store and the thief drove away with the running car.

“He could have took off with Jeremiah in the car and basically something bad could have happened. People are just desperate,” Richardson added.

Car theft has doubled in Cheektowaga and it’s happening on average four times a day in Buffalo.

Asst. Chief Brian Gould of the Cheektowaga Police Department said, “What we are seeing so often is people are pulling in and because they’re only running for a minute they think it’s OK to leave their car running.”

It has gotten to the point where Cheektowaga police have been proactively going around and putting signs in the windows of Cheektowaga businesses as a stark reminder of what can happen if you leave your car running

“There is some responsibility to owning a car. Our concern is some of the kids stealing the cars are young kids who don’t have experience driving, who are not going to stop when Police tried to pull them over. So it is creating a public safety issue. That is easily preventable is the bottom line,” Gould added.

Felicia’s car was recovered less than a mile away. A 17 year old was arrested for stealing it.

Gould continued, “Maybe it’s kids walking down the street, notice a car running, and instead of walking the next mile to get home, they hop in a car and dump it around the corner.”

“It was very scary and it could’ve ended really seriously bad,” said Richardson.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.