7 Oct 2009

Fears missing toddler has been abducted

10:25 pm on 7 October 2009

The search for missing toddler Aisling Symes has intensified as police in west Auckland focus on the possibility she has been abducted.

The two-year-old was with her parents who were tidying up a property on Longburn Road in the suburb of Henderson when she disappeared about 5.30pm on Monday.

Police have carried out an extensive search of the area with help from Search and Rescue and the air force, but have failed to find any trace of the girl on Wednesday.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Gary Davey, said fears for the girl's safety are growing by the hour, and it is increasingly likely that she may be the victim of foul play.

Police said if the girl had just wandered off or fallen into a waterway she would have been found by now.

Mr Davey said though there is no evidence Aisling Symes has been abducted, it is looking likely. The search is not over, but Mr Davey is confident the girl is not within the boundaries police have scoured.

Police believe an Asian woman seen with the girl about the time she went missing is critical to their inquiry.

The woman is thought to be about 35 years old, with dark shoulder-length hair. She was walking a black and grey dog at the time.

Mr Davey said police are also profiling paedophiles who live in the area.

At a news conference on Wednesday the toddler's aunt, Aithne Potts, made a tearful appeal for the girl's return.