Palmertson North kidnapping: Description of abductor released

Shamrock Street, Palmerston North, near where the five-year-old girl was grabbed by a man driven away. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Shamrock Street, Palmerston North, near where the five-year-old girl was grabbed by a man driven away. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Police have released a rough description of the man who snatched a five-year-old girl from a Palmerston North street.

He is described as being caucasian, in his late 50's with grey 'salt and pepper' hair and with facial stubble. The man is around 175cm tall (5 foot 9) of a slim build.

He has a scruffy and unkempt look, and may have some teeth missing.

Police are urging members of the public who many have seen the man in the areas of Shamrock Street, on Friday morning around 8am or on Hind Place around 11am to contact them.

Officers have made several public appeals for help after the young girl was taken as she walked to Te Kura o Takaro primary school with her two sisters about 8.30am on Friday. About two hours later she was dumped outside a house on Hind Place.

They described the incident as "every family's worst nightmare". The girl's sisters have told how they tried to stop the man, bringing neighbours running with their screams.

Also of interest in the case is information about a white, 1988-1995 model Nissan Maxima.

The vehicle has a very distinctive back end and people may have remembered seeing it, police said.

CCTV footage showed the car, which has a spoiler, driving past a Shamrock St house towards town. It then drives back in the opposite direction, where it headed after the snatch.

Police said while the vehicle may not have been involved, they were keen to hear from anyone who saw it in the areas mentioned above or from the driver of the vehicle itself.

Police have also released some advice for parents about how to have conversations with their children about recognising "undesired behaviour" from other people.

They said they were aware that the extra information may cause alarm for families in the community.

Their tips are below:

•Unlike this case, most children who are taken by someone know the person in some way so it is key to speak with your children around behaviours they should be avoiding, no matter who is displaying it.

•This includes approaches by anyone in unusual places, when anyone asks them illicit questions, or when someone interacts with them inappropriately no matter how small.

•Unfortunately, due to the likelihood of the offender being known to the child(ren), the phrase 'stranger danger' is outdated.

•Parents need to be focussing on the topic of inappropriate behaviour, like those listed previously, when speaking with their children about this type of situation.

•There are some key safety precautions that children can use to help prevent these incidents occurring including walking with friends or older relatives, knowing where to go for help and how to raise the alarm as soon as possible.

Anyone with information is asked to please call the Palmerston North Police Station on 06 351 3600.

Alternatively, information can also be provided anonymously via the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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