Desperate hunt for girl, 12, who vanished after leaving her grandmother’s house
6 August 2012
MISSING: Tia Sharp
A major police search was under way last night for a girl who vanished after telling her family she was going shopping.
Tia Sharp, 12, was last seen leaving her grandmother’s home at around midday on Friday to buy flip-flops.
Police have so far been unable to recover any CCTV footage of her movements, and are growing increasingly concerned for her safety. Last night officers were combing a wooded area near where she was last seen.
The schoolgirl had been expected to take the bus to a shopping centre, but detectives are probing the theory she may have tried to hitch a lift.
Detectives said Tia only had £10 in cash on her, which her grandmother had given her to buy flip-flops. She left her grandmother’s house in New Addington, south London, without a mobile phone or a travel card, which would have enabled her to travel by bus.
Last night local residents claimed on Facebook that a white van or car had been recently seen in the area and had attempted to abduct a child within the last couple of days.
Detectives said they had no knowledge of any attempted abduction previously in the area, although they could not rule out the possibility.
They are examining a number of reported sightings, but said none of them were confirmed sightings. Officers are questioning bus drivers and appealing for motorists to come forward if they have any information.
Detectives are examining Tia’s Twitter account and any social media websites to see whether she arranged to meet anyone. They are also speaking to friends of the schoolgirl, who did not have a boyfriend.
Hopes had been raised when a pair of glasses and a girl’s hair bobble were found, but her mother Natalie, 30, later confirmed they were not Tia’s. Police said Tia’s disappearance was out of character. Miss Sharp added: ‘I love and miss my little girl. My daughter is not a runaway.’
Tia’s family urged those wanting to help to stay away from the search after police apparently turned away hundreds of volunteers who responded to an earlier bogus appeal.
On Saturday around 200 people gathered near her home in Mitcham, south London. But in nearby New Addington, police turned away hundreds who wanted to join the search, citing ‘health and safety’ reasons.
Tia’s aunt Maxine Carter wrote on Facebook that they had turned up after a ‘sick and twisted hoaxer’ told the family police needed help.
Tia told her 46-year-old grandmother, whom she was visiting for the weekend, that she was going to the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon, south London, on Friday afternoon.
The schoolgirl, who is 4ft 5in tall was wearing FCUK glasses, a yellow top and skinny jeans.
Tia’s father David Niles said the family reported her missing around 6pm on Friday. ‘Our family is heartbroken,’ he added. ‘We are at our wits’ end. We are not good at the moment.
Article courtesy of the Daily Mail