AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The largest reward ever offered by the Aurora Police Department in a criminal investigation has doubled in size.
The department announced that their search for a suspect after Monday’s brazen attempted kidnapping incident now includes a $20,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The crime happened early Monday morning at a home on the 1600 block of Hanover Street. Police say a man pulled off a window screen and opened an unlocked window at about 12:15 a.m. He then grabbed an 8-year-old girl who had been sleeping out of her bedroom. He then dragged her into an alley and apparently attempted to put her into his car.
The girl’s screaming woke her father and he ran into the alley behind the home where she was running back towards him.
“This young girl immediately cried out, immediately put out a fuss and a struggle, and who knows if that might have saved her life,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
The girl was taken to the hospital, treated for minor injuries and released.
“Thank god her dad heard her,” neighbor Janine Lesser said.
Police are looking for a white man with blonde hair who smelled of cigarettes. He was last seen wearing a black winter jacket and could be driving a silver or gray BMW.
Aurora police are calling the case their top priority. They said they are checking sexual predator databases in the area in their hunt for the man.
“We’re treating this matter extremely seriously,” Oates said on Monday. “We think there’s a predator out there and he has to be stopped and he has to be caught.”
Merkel Jones lived next door to the home and says his son plays with the girl frequently.
“Pedophile, predator … whatever you want to label him as, that’s what he is,” Jones said. “We’re definitely going to be keeping a very close eye on these kids.”
Neighbor Nick Hadley saw the aftermath of the attempted kidnapping.
“I woke up, my dogs were barking like crazy because of the ambulances and fire trucks out here,” Hadley said.
Neighbor Julia Theus also lives in the neighborhood. She is thankful the child is safe but worries about other children in the area and questions why the suspect chose that particular home.
“Out of all the apartments on this block, why just reach in there? Theus said. “It had to be somebody they knew to know which room she was in and all that kind of stuff.”
Police say there is nothing to indicate that the family was targeted and that maybe a light being on in the bedroom had something to do with it, but say there really is no way to tell.
The reward money is being provided by the following:
– $10,000 – Shortline Auto Group
– $5,000 – SungateKids Child Advocacy Center
– $3,000: Aurora Police Reward Fund
– $2,000 – Metro Denver Crime Stoppers
“We just decided we’d double up what was already out there and see if we can catch this guy,” John Bowell with Shortline Automotive told CBS4. “You hear about something like that happening and that’s a person that we don’t need on the streets.”
Aurora police posted the following information in a bulletin about their case:
Aurora Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident or has any information on this case to please call Detective Christine Hurley at (303) 739-6113. You can also provide information on this case and remain anonymous by calling CRIME STOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867). You may also text your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) then use the title DMCS and enter your message.