TWO THUGS who jumped into a car that a man had left unlocked and running in West Philadelphia yesterday afternoon likely sped away thinking they had hit the jackpot.

Until they made it to the end of the block on Hanson Street near Spruce - when they realized they were a trio. An 8-year-old boy, the son of the car's owner, was in the back seat, police said.

The men threw the boy out of the black 1995 Nissan Maxima on Hanson Street near Pine, and continued on their joyride, said Lt. John Walker of the Southwest Detective Division.

A woman walking home from work saw the uninjured boy on the pavement just before 6 p.m. and stayed with him until police arrived, Walker said.

Police said the boy's father had parked the car and left it unlocked while he ordered food from a carryout restaurant, and was planning to keep an eye on the vehicle from inside the building.

Walker said these types of incidents happen more frequently as the temperature drops and people try keeping the heat on in their cars - occupied or empty - while running errands.

"It seems to happen more often during the holidays," he said. "People are more distracted with things going on. It's important that people know when they're going places to lock their doors."

No arrests were made. Tipsters were asked to call the Philadelphia Police Southwest Detective Division at 215-686-3183.