IT TOOK only three minutes.
Kevin and Leesa Plant dropped into their Monkland St business on Sunday night to pick up tools, when the most unsettling three minutes of their lives took place.
Mr Plant parked their Holden Cascada outside the large garage door while his wife waited in the car, engine running, music and car lights on.
As the smash repairer picked up his spanners from the back of the workshop, a sound cut through the night, curdling his blood.
"Next minute I heard my wife screaming. It was a very chilling scream - I'll never forget it," Mr Plant said.
Within seconds he reached the garage door.
"When I got to the door, I dropped everything. I saw Leesa stumbling to her feet and then my car was just going down the drive way," the business owner said.
"I couldn't comprehend what was happening."
"She was screaming and I could hardly understand what she was saying she was that scared."
In those three minutes Mrs Plant went from idly listening to music in the passenger seat to jumping for her life out of the car.
Seeing a figure approach the car, shock took over when Mrs Plant realised it was not her husband returning to the car.
"Get out of the car," the young, clean-shaven stranger yelled.
"Get out of the f**king car or I'll shoot you."
The terrified passenger was only half way out of the car when it took off, leaving her scratched on the legs and paralysed with fear.
"I've worked here for 18 years and I've never experienced anything like it," Mr Plant said at his Automotive Smash and Spray Paint workshop in Monkland St.
He said the effect had been great - it had left his wife traumatised that night and unable to sleep and had left him very wary.
"I think people think because it's a country town, nothing like this happens here," he said.
"I reckon you would think twice about walking around Gympie at night on your own."
The couple were relieved yesterday to hear the car was found dumped near Wondai, west of Gympie, with only minor damage.
The car thieve allegedly stole fuel at a Southside service station before leaving town, Mr Plant said he was told.