Officers have launched a hunt for a man who grabbed a young girl and ran off with her at a Morrisons supermarket.
The man plucked the three-year-old off a moving walkway and carried her away before dropping her a distance away.
In what could have been every parent’s nightmare, the incident occurred at a Morrisons on Railway Road, Blackburn just before it got dark.
A mother was heading to her car with the three-year-old and her older sister, five, when an Asian man grabbed the younger girl and ran off.
The man, believed to be in his mid thirties, then made as if to run off with the girl before he seemingly had a change of heart and put her down.
Officers say they do not know what his motives were or whether his intentions were to remove the girl from her mother.
The man is said to be of a height around the 5ft 6in to 5ft 8in mark. He had black hair cut in a short style at the sides and left thick on top.
At the time of the incident, he was dressed in blue jeans and was wearing a black and blue bomber jacket.
Detective Inspector Tim McDermott, from Blackburn CID, who is leading the investigation said: “This incident has understandably been very distressing for the family involved.
“The motive of the man remains unclear and so we need to speak to him urgently to understand what happened.
“I am appealing directly to this man to contact us and for anyone who thinks they may know who he is to do likewise.”
He urged anyone in or around Morrisons at the time, who might have seen anything, to get in touch.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting incident reference 787 of November 3.
Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.
The incident comes after a separate incident in Newcastle, in which two teenage girls kidnapped a toddler from a Primark store.
The girls, aged 13 and 14, were sentenced to three years and three months in a detention centre.
The little girl was reunited with her mother after she was found in a park nearby.
Mr Justice Globe said although the child came to “no actual harm”, there had been intent, planning and enticement.