An opportunistic thief has stolen an idling car while its driver was hugging her friend goodbye at Melbourne Airport.
Victoria Police spokesman Melissa Seach confirmed police were investigating a car theft outside the international terminal at Tullamarine at about 9pm last Thursday. Parking at the drop-off zone is limited to one minute.
The woman, who called radio station 3AW on Thursday morning and referred to herself as "Anne", said she was shocked when a man snuck into the driver's seat of her Honda Jazz while she was bidding her friend goodbye.
"I parked the car, put it in drive, hugged my friend and as I was doing it, a guy got into the driver's seat and took off," she said.
As the thief accelerated, Anne hung onto the driver's seat, trying to stop him.
"In hindsight, it was a silly to do," she said. "It is just a car."
Anne said her friend saw the offender approach the Honda, but was not sure where he came from or if he had been watching the pair before making his move.
Australian Federal Police officers were on the scene within 30 seconds of the theft, Anne said, and immediately "zoomed off" in pursuit of the stolen car. However, they could not find the offender.
A spokeswoman for the AFP said the case has been handed over to Victoria Police.
Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Carly Dixon said it was the first time a theft of this kind had occurred at the airport.
"Obviously it was quite a brazen crime, and certainly not something we have seen before," she said.
She said because the airport was a 24-hour venue, the AFP, security guards and traffic managers regularly patrolled the entire road network.
"This is just extraordinary for us," she said.
Ms Dixon urged those dropping off loved-ones to stay inside the cars if possible or, if they needed to come outside and help move luggage, to always take their keys with them.
The stolen 2007 model Honda Jazz is black, with the number plate WJT-782.
Anyone with information is asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.