15 Feb 2016

Parents walking children to school after kidnapping

10:05 pm on 15 February 2016

Worried parents in Palmerston North have been accompanying their children to school as a hunt continues for the man who kidnapped a young girl.

Police are appealing for sightings of a car, similar to this one pictured.

Police are appealing for sightings of a car, similar to this one pictured. Photo: NZ POLICE

The five-year-old was taken for two-and-a-half hours on Friday morning after being snatched on her way to school with her two older sisters.

The police are still searching for the man who took the girl, and are looking for any sightings of a white Nissan Maxima from the years 1988 to 1995.

The man was thought to have been in the area around Shamrock Street between 8-8.30am on Friday, and was seen again in Hind Place about 11am.

Police cars were doing the rounds in the area this morning, while parents spoken to by RNZ said they were being more vigilant.

One mother, whose daughter is good friends with the girl, said she would not usually walk her children to school but would start now.

"We're pretty scared and we live just round Shamrock Place," she said. "Definitely watching out for the kids, I think we all are today. I notice all the parents are here."

The police were encouraging parents to talk to their children about avoiding people they did not know and people approaching them in an unusual place.

Progress in Operation Shamrock

Manawatu Area Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said they had received lots of new information from the public in the last 12 hours, which had helped them make progress.

Ms Stewart said the police had been doing a lot of extra patrols before and after school, and parents should think about who was the best person to take their children there.

"We have to think about other children who are older and suitable to walk with children and a lot of young children together might not be the best option, but some older teenagers might be fine as well as an adult or instead of an adult."

The police were keen to talk to any concerned parents, Ms Stewart said.

"We'll also be making ourselves available around schools and we've been doing a lot of patrols before and after school at different locations, and we're available to parents to offer advice and reassurance as well.

"We have had some information from various people relating to this enquiry; it's nothing specific that I can comment on at this stage."