A woman has described a brazen daylight robbery at a busy Hunter shopping centre, while she and her son were sitting in their car, as "awful".
Candice Robertson and her six-year-old child returned to the family vehicle in the carpark at Charlestown Square just before midday on Sunday.
Ms Robertson let her son into the car and put her shopping and handbag on the front passenger-side seat before she got into the driver's side.
As Ms Robertson was preparing to pull out of the second-level spot, she looked to her left and received a shock.
"I noticed this face at the passenger door," she said.
"He just opened the door, grabbed my handbag and he ran.
"There was no-one lurking, he was there within seconds."
A man, who was the passenger in the vehicle waiting for Ms Robertson's parking space, jumped from the car and chased the bandit down the carpark ramp.
The thief tripped and dropped the handbag and the man was able to return it to Ms Robertson, though the robber escaped.
The incident was reported to Charlestown Square security and Lake Macquarie police.
Ms Robertson said the experience was "awful".
"The thing that hurts me still is my poor little boy - he needed a parent to sit on his bed as he went to sleep because he was scared he was going to have nightmares [following the robbery]," she said.
A Charlestown Square spokesperson said centre management had been alerted to Sunday's incident.
He said security officers responded immediately and police attended the scene.
"Charlestown Square is assisting NSW Police with their investigation and have provided CCTV footage," he said.
"As we move towards the Christmas period, which is the busiest time of year, we have a range of security measures in place which are well-understood and which are, from time to time, adjusted as needed.
"The safety and comfort of our guests, retailers and staff remains the utmost priority at Charlestown Square."
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