Police name man believed to have stolen vehicle with baby inside in Waitara

An arrest warrant has been issued for Michael Smith, 34, who is believed to be in Taranaki.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Michael Smith, 34, who is believed to be in Taranaki. Photo credit: Newshub / Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa New Zealand Police.

By Robin Martin for RNZ

Police are looking for a man believed to be responsible for stealing a car with a baby still inside it in the Taranaki town of Waitara.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Michael Smith, 34, who is believed to be in the Taranaki region.

Police said they responded to reports of a stolen vehicle, which had a baby in the back seat, on 10 May about 12.10pm.

The baby was found uninjured on a grass verge near the corner of Queen and Cameron Street.

The vehicle was also found abandoned on the corner of Henui and Mclean Streets, after being driven all over Taranaki in the weekend, about 6am on 13 May.

An associate was taken into custody with the vehicle and enquiries are ongoing to locate the man involved.

On Friday, police made an appeal for sightings of Smith via their Manawatū, Taranaki, Whanganui-Ruapehu Facebook page.

Stuff is reporting court documents show charges against Smith include assault with intent to facilitate flight by the taking of a motor vehicle, intent to deprive a parent of the possession of a young person by unlawfully taking the child, theft of a motor vehicle, driving while disqualified and driving with a false licence plate.

Police have confirmed the charges relate to the incident in Waitara last Friday.

"Given the public interest in the case we will make a proactive statement when he is taken into custody."

An 27-year-old associate of the alleged thief appeared in New Plymouth District Court this week, charged with unlawfully getting into a vehicle.

Police said sightings of Smith or information about his whereabouts could be reported to them via 111, quoting case number 240510/8076, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.