Police are now hunting for the man who took the child
Detectives investigating the disappearance of toddler Maria Tudorica, who briefly went missing after a car was stolen while she was strapped into the passenger seat, are still searching for the man who took her.
The 17-month-old girl was with her father at 4.35pm on Sunday (January 6) when he met with an unknown man on Nine Acres Close, in Manor Park, East London, with the view to selling a car.
The vehicle was then taken by the suspect, with Maria still in the vehicle. An appeal was launched to find her, and the black Audi A5 was found abandoned in nearby Hathaway Crescent at 5.53pm. The toddler was not inside, however.
A huge number of Metropolitan Police officers were called in to help with the search, and Maria was thankfully found by a member of the public in Ruskin Avenue, close to where the car was found, at 7.49pm.
The Met have said when Maria was last seen, she was wearing a white top and red trousers. However, when found, she was wearing an additional item of clothing.
The force have said they believe that either the carjacker put the extra layer of clothing on the child before abandoning her, or that a member of the public dressed her due to the cold, but that at the time they did not wish to contact the police.
“If this was you, please contact officers as you may hold vital information to this investigation – we can reassure you that you are not in any trouble,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
The man who took the Audi is described as an Asian man of slim build, dressed in black clothing.
It isn’t known whether he left Maria in the car and she wandered off or whether he dumped her near to where she was found.
No arrests have been made at this stage.
A spokesman for the Met added: “Detectives would like to hear from anyone who saw the black Audi between the time it was stolen and when it was found. Where was the car for these 80 minutes? If you captured the vehicle on your dashcam please contact police.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, if you wish to remain anonymous, on 0800 555 111.