Two children managed to fight off a car jacker with a toy rubber snake.

The thief jumped into the vehicle outside Lucia Lozada's home in San Antonio, Texas, as her family prepared to go to church.

He fled in the car with three children - seven-year-old twin boys and their one-year-old brother - in the back, but was forced to pull over when one of the children began whipping him with the toy snake.

The children's mother called police and just ten minutes later they were found unharmed a mile away from their home.

Describing the incident, one of the twins said: "I kept hitting him like that and he said 'Stop, stop, I'm not going to hurt you.' "

Sergeant Javier Salazar of the San Antonio Police Department told ABC News: "One of the boys was punching the man in the face and the other was hitting him with a rubber snake."

Sgt Salazar added: "The parents were thanking us for getting their children back so quickly but we're crediting the twins who are as cute and as brave as can be."

Hermini Segovia, the children's grandmother, said the thief "just wanted the car" and let the boys keep their tablet computer.

"He even shook their hands before dropping them off," she added.

The children were reunited with their parents after a girl playing outside a house in the street got help.

The hijacker, who has often been seen in the Colglazier and Pecan Valley neighbourhoods, is described as a white male in his 30s who has tattoos on both legs.