Police recovered a stolen vehicle taken with a two-month-old baby seated in the back on Tuesday - but the child is still missing.
Officers found the Toyota RAV4 at about 8am in front of a school entrance in Gongzhuling county, about 40 kilometres southwest of Changchun, Jilin province in northeastern China. But there was no baby in the vehicle or any trace of the kidnapper.
Changchun police launched a citywide manhunt on Monday morning after a father, identified by surname Xu, reported that his vehicle had gone missing with his two-month child inside.
Xu told police he kept the vehicle’s engine running and door unlocked while he went in a convenience store where he worked, China National Radio reported.
Police officials and radio hosts repeatedly broadcasted an appeal to the suspect to stop running and keep the baby safe.
“I beg of you to keep my child safe. Do not harm my child,” Xu said in a radio broadcast at 8.30am on Monday.
A total of 3,500 police offiers were involved in the search. Dozens of private cars and taxi owners also volunteered.
An account of the news item that was published on microblogging site Sina Weibo by state television CCTV was reposted, akin to a retweet on Twitter, more than 400,000 times as of Tuesday morning.