12 Feb 2016

Man who took girl unknown to her

6:43 pm on 12 February 2016

The man who pulled a five-year-old girl into a car in Palmerston North was not known to her, police say.

Shekinah Relies-Skipper was walking to school with her sisters along Shamrock Street about 8.30am when a man in a white vehicle pulled her into the car.

Police would not say what school Shekinah was headed to but RNZ understands it was Te Kura O Takaro.

A member of the public who heard Shekinah's sisters calls for help alerted police to the incident.

Takaro Primary School Palmerston North.

Takaro Primary School, Palmerston North. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A number of searches were then launched, including an aerial search.

Shannon was not an area of focus for police, after a vehicle was seen of a similar description. That vehicle has been discounted by police.

The man dropped Shekinah off at an un-related address in the Palmerston North area about 11am. A member of the public found her and alerted police.

Shekinah was now safe and well with her family, who were relieved to have her back.

Inspector Sarah Stewart

Police Manawatu Area Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Manawatu Area Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said it had been an incredibly traumatic event and upsetting for everyone involved, but her family were incredible and very supportive of the police investigation.

Police would not be providing any more information about Shekinah, she said.

Inspector Stewart police did not know what the man looked like, but that he was not known to Shekinah.

Police had not identified the make or model of the vehicle he was driving, but said it was a white sedan.

Inspector Stewart said incidents like this were very rare in New Zealand and appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Officers were going to door-to-door and reviewing CCTV footage from the area as part of their investigation.

Police were keen to hear from anyone who may have seen anything out of the ordinary, particularly in the Shamrock Street and Hind Place areas.

"Even if you don't think it's important, let us know and let us decide that", Inspector Stewart said.

At least 30 officers were working on the case.