Disappeared and Abducted Children and Young Adults > Suspects

The 3 Burglars

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3rd January 2014

Daily Mail


Police identify three prime suspects for abduction of Madeleine McCann following analysis of mobile phone data.

Data suggests a burglary gang was operating near time of disappearance

Suspects made an 'unusually high' number of calls hours after Maddie was reported missing

Police believe thieves carried out one raid in resort, disturbing a child

Portuguese police attached no significance to the break-in days before

British detectives described oversight as a 'disgrace'

'Main line of inquiry' suggests burglars panicked and kidnapped Maddie

Three prime suspects for the abduction of Madeleine McCann have been identified by Scotland Yard officers.

Analysis of mobile phone data suggests a burglary gang was operating very near to where she vanished in Portugal in May 2007.

The three men made an unusually high number of calls to each other in the hours after Madeleine was reported missing from her holiday flat in the Algarve.

Police believe the thieves, including at least one Portuguese man, had already carried out one raid in the resort of Praia da Luz, disturbing a child.

That child's parents, who had been drinking outside the property, rushed inside to find the intruders had fled.

During their bungled investigation Portuguese police attached no significance to the break-in, which came a few days before Madeleine disappeared.

British detectives said this oversight was a 'disgrace'.

Following the Yard phone breakthrough, informal discussions have taken place about arresting the three burglars and searching their homes and other sites.

It is believed background checks have taken place into their criminal history, their circle of friends and relatives and the vehicles they have used.

British detectives believe the burglars may have panicked after they woke Madeleine up by mistake and decided to take her away with them.

An informed source said: 'After all the far-fetched theories about what may have happened to Madeleine, there may be a far more simple explanation: that a burglary went horribly wrong.

'It is the main line of inquiry for British police.'

But Scotland Yard's hopes of early arrests have been thwarted by the reluctance of the Portuguese authorities to agree to a formal joint investigation.

Because none of the burglars is British, the Met cannot arrest them in Portugal and will need the full cooperation of local police to pursue the inquiry.

Behind the scenes, highly sensitive diplomatic discussions are taking place to resolve the issue so that British detectives can be based in Portugal. Home Secretary Theresa May is being briefed regularly.

Yard detectives have dismissed the idea that a local man who died in a tractor accident four years ago was responsible for Madeleine's disappearance.

Portuguese police regard the 40-year-old, a former employee at the Ocean Club holiday complex the McCanns stayed at, as their prime suspect.

Met officers disagree with their reasoning and are concentrating on the burglars.

The compelling mobile phone 'cell site analysis' – which has helped solve a number of major crimes – has strengthened suspicions about the gang.

A major appeal based on 'substantive' new information – including descriptions of possible suspects – was broadcast on the BBC1's Crimewatch in October. Days before the appeal, senior detectives revealed mobile phone records may hold the key to solving the case.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the inquiry, said officers were examining data from thousands of mobiles thought to belong to people who were in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine's disappearance.

The data suggests the men were involved in a burglary a few days before Madeleine's disappearance during which they woke a another child.

Madeleine McCann went missing from her apartment in The Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz in 2007.

Police are trying to identify the owner of each phone to build up a picture of exactly who was in the area.

More than 3,000 people live in Praia da Luz, while holidaymakers and seasonal workers visit from around the world. 'This is not just a general trawl,' said Mr Redwood. 'It's a targeted attack on that data to see if it assists us to find out what happened to Madeleine at that time.'

Mr Redwood said officers had been unable to identify, six years on, a large number of mobile phones, especially those bought on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The records also contain information on which numbers were dialled and when. It is thought some numbers might appear on police intelligence systems, or be linked to criminals.

According to Scotland Yard, the phone records were looked at by the Portuguese police investigation but in no detail. Scotland Yard announced it was launching an investigation into Madeleine's disappearance in July – after spending two years reviewing the case under the codename Operation Grange.

Madeleine, whose parents Gerry and Kate live in Rothley, Leicestershire, was days away from her fourth birthday when she was abducted.

Earlier this week it emerged that the bill for the Yard's probe has topped £6million. The total is now likely to exceed £10million, with £88,000 having gone on travel costs so far.



5th January 2014

Sunday Mirror

By Justin Penrose

Madeleine McCann: Three burglars are prime suspects in hunt for missing girl as police trawl phone records,

Scotland Yard believes Maddie was snatched by a panicked gang who ­accidentally woke her in the family's apartment and took her with them.

Three burglars have been ­identified as prime suspects in the hunt for Madeleine McCann after detectives trawled through thousands of phone records.

Scotland Yard believes Madeleine was snatched by a panicked gang who ­accidentally woke her in the family's holiday apartment and decided to take her with them.

Mobile phone analysis shows the men made an unusually high number of calls to each other in the hours after she disappeared aged three in Praia da Luz, Portugal.

British officers now want to arrest the men but need the Portuguese to agree to a formal joint investigation as UK detectives cannot swoop on foreign suspects.

Yesterday a source close to parents Kate and Gerry said: "It could be a major breakthrough.

"Kate and Gerry are buoyed up by this latest development. Whilst they don't want to build up their hopes too high they are feeling optimistic.

"They felt it was only a matter of time before new clues came to light."

Officers believe the burglars had carried out a raid in the resort days before Madeleine vanished in May 2007, disturbing another child. That youngster's parents were outside and rushed in to find the intruders had fled.

During their bungled probe Portuguese police attached no ­significance to the ­break-in. But the Met is thought to have made checks into the men's criminal history, their friends and any vehicles they have used.

Scotland Yard, which refused to comment, also ruled out Portuguese officers' prime suspect – a man who had worked at the resort where the McCanns, of Rothley, Leics, stayed.

A Crimewatch appeal aired in October and police, led by ­Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, revealed mobile records could be key. Yesterday Kate was at Everton's FA Cup tie against QPR to help raise awareness for missing people.


5th January 2014

Sunday Express

By: James Murray

EXCLUSIVE: Madeleine McCann police are urged to hunt Ocean Club thief

SCOTLAND Yard detectives hunting Madeleine McCann’s kidnapper are being urged to trace a former worker at the Ocean Club holiday villa complex from where she disappeared.

A criminologist who has spent years analysing Portuguese police files has discovered information about the man, who had previously been caught stealing.

He lived close to the spot where a man was seen carrying a child, who detectives believe was Madeleine, at the time of the abduction.

Madrid-based Heriberto Janosch has written to Scotland Yard's Operation Grange detectives with details of his findings.

The revelation comes after it was reported that Scotland Yard officers have identified three "prime suspects" in a burglary gang after analysing phone data around the time of the abduction on May 3, 2007, at Praia da Luz in Portugal's Algarve.

The report claimed there were a high number of calls between the group after Madeleine vanished. It also suggested the gang was responsible for two earlier raids at neighbouring apartments, one of which was foiled when they were disturbed by an elderly resident.

Now Yard chiefs are involved with discussions with counterparts in Portugal on how and when to arrest the trio, one of whom is ­Portuguese.

Mr Janosch said that the individual he is interested in was not ­working at the Ocean Club during the evening when Madeleine disappeared. He said: "When I read the information in the Portuguese police files I felt it was important to contact Scotland Yard to make sure they were aware of it.

"Now I understand that the Yard is concentrating on three suspected burglars and I wonder if this man I am interested in is one of them.

"The investigation is reaching a very important stage and hopefully the police are on the verge of a breakthrough.

"I have investigated this case for a long time and it is my belief that Madeleine was taken by burglars and there was no planned kidnapping.

"She just happened to come across them when they were in the apartment."

The move came as Kate McCann, an ambassador for the charity Missing People, and husband Gerry yesterday attended the FA Cup tie between Everton and Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park.

Everton supporter Kate went to the game to raise awareness of the charity and to cheer on her team.

A film about the plight of missing people was shown during the half-time break.

Writing in Everton's match programme yesterday, chairman Bill Kenwright, said: "We have a strong tradition at Everton of working with, and supporting, our community and because of that we wanted to use today's game to help raise awareness of those who, for whatever reason, are currently missing."



12th January 2014

Daily Mirror

By David Collins

Madeleine McCann cops to make first arrests: Three burglars who 'made many phone calls' after her disappearance wanted in Portugal

The Crown Prosecution Service has sent an International Letter of Request to ­Portuguese police seeking permission to arrest the trio.

British police are poised to make the first arrests in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann.

The Met want to quiz three burglars who carried out raids in the Portuguese resort when the three-year-old vanished.

Officers were last night preparing to fly to the Algarve to make their first arrests since the force set up Operation Grange in 2011 to review the ­kidnapping.

They hope to speak to the thieves after mobile phone records showed the men made numerous calls to each other in the hours after she disappeared.

The Crown Prosecution Service has sent an International Letter of Request to ­Portuguese police seeking permission to arrest the trio.

A spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry said: "The letter is a significant development. It is necessary for British police to request the ­Portuguese authorities allow them to operate on their turf.

"It means they have the intention of arresting and interviewing X, Y or Z. We don't know who they have their sights on but it's likely it is the burglars.

"Whether the Portuguese will co-operate remains to be seen. It is a very sensitive issue with differences they have had.

"Police want to be given a chance to arrest key suspects. It doesn't prove they have Madeleine but it will rule them in or out of the investigation and that is i­mportant.

"Kate and Gerry don't want to build up their hopes too high but they realise it could be a significant new lead."

Days before Madeleine's disappearance from Praia da Luz in May 2007 aged three, the gang raided another holiday flat there, disturbing a child. The ­youngster's parents interrupted the burglars who fled.

An inquiry source said: ­"Portuguese police attached no ­significance to the burglary at the time. British officers regard this as an oversight."

Met Police have so far been unable to arrest the men as their Portuguese ­counterparts are reluctant to carry out a joint investigation, instead preferring to follow their own lines of inquiry.

Diplomatic discussions are going on to try to secure agreement for UK detectives to be based in Portugal. Six local officers are working with the Met’s team, making enquiries on their behalf.

The latest development follows a first International Letter of Request allowing Operation Grange to access mobile phone data.

Scotland Yard said: "We can confirm a second International Letter of Request has been sent to the Portuguese authorities by the Crown Prosecution Services."

No formal arrests have ever been made in the hunt for Madeleine. Early on former GP Kate and heart doctor Gerry, both 45 and from Rothley, Leics, were given the status of arguido. It meant they were formal suspects but they were cleared in 2008.

British-born property consultant Robert Murat was also made an arguido but he was exonerated alongside the McCanns.

Operation Grange has 37 officers and has so far cost taxpayers £4.5million.

In October, a BBC Crimewatch special, featuring a reconstruction and an e-fit of a new prime suspect, sparked 3,500 calls and emails. Two viewers gave the same name for the man seen carrying a child.


Madeleine: Police identify burglars as prime suspects after phone calls clue.

THREE burglars have been identified by Scotland Yard as potential major suspects in the hunt for Madeleine McCann.

Daily Express

By: John Twomey
Published: Mon, January 13, 2014

Detectives in London are understood to have urged the Portuguese authorities to track down the men and detain them.

The Yard is believed to have appealed for the thieves to be arrested in an international letter of request sent to Lisbon last week.

In what could be a breakthrough in the inquiry, detectives focused on the three men after a painstaking trawl through mobile phone records.

It is understood there was significant phone traffic between them around the time three-year-old Madeleine vanished from the McCanns’ holiday home in the Algarve in May 2007.

One theory is that the burglars raided the apartment in Praia da Luz and were panicked into snatching the little girl when she woke up and started crying.

The Yard cannot discount the possibility the men are not linked to Madeleine's disappearance but it is vital they are "traced, interviewed and eliminated" as an important step in the inquiry.

Burglars were active in the area in the days before Madeleine was kidnapped and the small but significant increase in the number of break-ins has been a major focus in the Yard's inquiry.

Shortly before Madeleine was snatched, an apartment was raided and another child was disturbed.

The youngster's parents were nearby but the intruder or intruders had fled when they rushed back inside.

Identifying the burglars as possible major suspects in the hunt for Madeleine is a key part of the Yard's investigation, codenamed Operation Grange.

A source close to her parents, Kate and Gerry, said: "It could be a major breakthrough. Kate and Gerry are buoyed up by this latest development.

"Whilst they don't want to build up their hopes too high they are feeling optimistic. They felt it was only a matter of time before new clues came to light."

In a moving radio interview recently, former GP Mrs McCann, 45, said: "Six years ago my little girl Madeleine was stolen. I cannot describe the impact that awful night had on our family. It’s a horrible pain we live with every day.

"[The charity] Missing People call it living in limbo and until Madeleine is found, we are in this nightmarish limbo too.

"Missing People never gives up hope, never stops looking. They are there when it counts, supporting each family for as long as it takes. For families like mine, they are a vital lifeline."

Authorities in London and Lisbon are working to set up a joint investigation team which would take advantage of European law to speed up cross-border inquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, head of Operation Grange, has revealed that mobile records could be key to the mystery. But there are many other possible lines of inquiry.

Yesterday, a Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed an international letter of request was sent to the Portuguese last week but declined to discuss the contents.



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