Police are searching for an American family whose infant ended up locked in a hotel safe in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Niagara Regional Police Service said in a news release that the family, from the New York City borough of Brooklyn, was staying at the Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls in Niagara Falls.

On Tuesday at around 10 a.m., the family notified hotel staff that their baby had been locked in a safe in the room and a maintenance worker was sent to free the infant. The baby was "alert and crying," police said in a news release.

But the parents, who were on scene when the maintenance worker freed the baby, left the hotel with the baby before police were told what happened.  

Niagara Falls Howard Johnson

Police say a baby ended up locked in a safe Tuesday at the Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont. (Greg Ross/CBC)

Det.-Const. Amanda Sanders, of Niagara regional police's child abuse unit, said its still unclear how the baby wound up in the safe.

"At this point we don't know if it's anything more than a preventable accident," she said.

Sanders said police believe the baby is less than a year old and small enough to fit in the safe, which is about 50 centimetres wide, 35 centimetres tall and 43 centimetres deep.

Sanders cautioned police are still in the preliminary stage of the investigation and that at this point they don't even know the gender of the baby.

"Police wish to locate the family to ascertain the welfare of the child," the police service said in a news release.

U.S. border services have also been notified about the incident and said the van has not crossed back into America, said Scott Kraushar of the Niagara regional police.

The family is believed to be travelling in a 2015 grey Ford van, with the license plate B31EUB.

Anyone who sees the van is asked to contact police at 905-688-4111 x4320.