A six-year-old girl found wandering naked in a Tyneside street was the victim of a “sexually-motivated assault” police have said.
The youngster was abducted from the ground-floor bathroom of her North Tyneside home, by a man who entered from the back of the property.
She was reported missing on Tuesday evening and found a short time later in a distressed state in Willington Quay.
Detectives say they have had a good response to public appeals for help.
Det Ch Insp Jim Napier, who is leading the inquiry, said: “We have had a very good response as a result of house-to-house inquiries and are following up that information as a priority.
“I would still encourage anyone who has not yet spoken to police and are wondering whether they should, to do so.”
Northumbria Police said children playing in a back lane in the Willington Quay area may have seen a man, possibly middle-aged, who was wearing a dark coat and gloves, hanging around and acting suspiciously.
He may have been in a car or on foot, the detective said.
Officers also want to speak to anyone who saw a car being driven erratically in the area between 1900 and 1930 GMT on Tuesday.
Mr Napier said the car could have been screeching, either from the engine or its tyres.
‘Very frightening experience’
Police were alerted by the girl’s distraught mother when she discovered she was missing from the bathroom of their home where she had been having a bath.
The naked girl was found by a resident, wandering around in a distressed state.
Specially-trained officers have arranged to talk the girl through her ordeal to establish exactly what happened.
Det Ch Insp Napier said the girl had had a “very frightening experience”. He said specially-trained officers had been talking to her to establish exactly what happened.
He said: “It appears that the girl had been removed whilst having a bath in the house by a male who had entered the house, taken her from the house and put her in a car and drove off with her.
“Whilst he has had her in the car he has assaulted the girl and I am satisfied that the assault was one of a sexual nature.”
© BBC MMV