A man who stole a car without realising a one-year-old girl was asleep in the back has been jailed for 34 months
Paul Sweet, 41, of Ely, Cardiff, took the car on 23 December 2009 after it had been left unattended momentarily by a young mother in Cardiff city centre.
The mother told police she feared her child had been taken by a paedophile, Cardiff Crown Court heard.
Sweet, who abandoned the car and unharmed baby, admitted a number of offences including child abduction.
The court heard the black BMW car had been left unattended in Park Grove by the mother while she dashed into a nursery to collect her older daughter.
She returned to find her car gone, sparking a huge police search involving dozens of officers and the force helicopter.
Sweet, who admitted child abduction, joyriding, driving while disqualified, without insurance and stealing bank cards and £400 in cash, told police he drove the car away so he could "search" it for valuables.
He said: "As I turned around to search the back I immediately noticed a baby.
"I panicked, picked up the bag and left. I would never have taken the car if I had known there was a baby in the back."
Sweet had 38 previous convictions, mostly for theft and serious driving offences, the court heard.
"Astonishingly, you made no attempt to contact the emergency services anonymously to tell them where the little baby was.
"You are a terribly callous and unfeeling man."