A statewide Amber Alert has been issued in New Jersey for a missing 5-year-old girl who police say was lured away from a playground into a van.
Dulce Maria Alavez was last seen Monday afternoon in the area of City Park in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
Dulce's mother reported to authorities that she saw her daughter playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother, about 30 yards away, while she remained in her car with an 8-year-old relative. The mother said the toddler returned to her car without his sister and she was unable to find her, according to a press release from the Bridgetown Police Department.
"She would never run off," Dulce's mother, Noema Alavez Perez, told Philadelphia ABC station WPVI. "She would never walk by herself or do something like that. This is the first time she did it."
Dozens of personnel from various law enforcement agencies within the county searched the area extensively Tuesday alongside K-9 units, but Dulce was nowhere to be found.
The Amber Alert was issued after investigators interviewed people who were in the park at the time.
Dulce may have been taken by a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic man with a thin build and no facial hair, around 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, and wearing a black shirt and red pants with orange sneakers, police said. Investigators believe the man led Dulce into a red van with tinted windows and a sliding door.
The little girl is described as Hispanic, roughly 3 feet, 5 inches tall and has dark hair that was in a pony tail at the time. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black-and-white checkered pants with a flower design and white sandals.
Authorities have been conducting simultaneous investigations since Dulce was reported missing, with officers focused on locating the child and carrying out a criminal investigation into her disappearance, police said.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to call the Bridgeton Police Department at 1-856-451-0033.