A 40-year-old woman snatched a five-year-old boy as he played on the Rockingham foreshore just metres from his mother yesterday afternoon, police claim.
But the woman was allegedly stopped from fleeing with the child when passersby surrounded her after the boy's mother screamed for help.
Police allege the woman put the child down about 10m away from where she had grabbed him outside the Sunset Cafe, where he was playing with another child, about 3.30pm.
Mandurah detectives said such incidents were not common but were a reminder to parents to be alert. It was fortunate the child's mother was keeping a close eye on her child, police say.
Mandurah Detectives charged a 40-year-old woman with attempted child stealing and she was expected to appear in Perth Magistrates Court today.
Police are still appealing for anyone who saw the incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.