(CBS/AP) AURORA, Colo. - Police were searching Tuesday for a man who tried to kidnap an 8-year-old Aurora, Colo. girl from her bedroom in the middle of the night by slashing an outdoor screen and dragging her into an alley.
Investigators say the girl screamed for help early Monday morning and was able to get away from the abductor just as her father ran outside to help her. The father told police he saw the suspect speed away in the alley that runs behind their house. Police Chief Dan Oates said the girl's loud struggle to escape may have saved her life.
Oates said there is no indication the family was targeted and police are treating the case as an attempted stranger abduction, a rare crime. Investigators are studying surveillance videos of businesses, searching sex offender databases and also checking on whether there have been any other similar incidents elsewhere in the Denver area.
"We think there's a predator out there. And he has to be caught, and he has to be stopped," Oates said in announcing a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
The chief said the girl talked to the suspect, but he wouldn't elaborate.
CBS Denver reports the reward being offered is the largest reward ever offered by the Aurora Police Department. The department has called the case a top priority.
The reward has since been increased to $20,000 with a contribution from a local car dealership.
The girl's grandmother, Beatrice Padilla, told The Denver Post the girl was doing her homework in her bunk bed in her first-floor bedroom just after midnight when the suspect entered and covered the child's mouth with his hand. She said another child was in the room but asleep at the time.
Oates said it's likely the suspect saw the light on and had been watching the girl.
The girl was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. Her father reportedly told CBS Denver that his daughter is doing okay and just resting.
The family's home is in a residential neighborhood just outside Denver made up of a mix of single-family dwellings and apartments. The alley behind the house is near three apartment complexes used by residents to access parking.
The suspect is described as a blond man, wearing a black winter jacket with a strong odor of cigarette smoke. The girl's father said he was driving a silver or grey BMW sedan.
Neighbor Lawrence Chambers said the news was disturbing.
"I want to tell my neighbors: Protect your kids," he said.
Another neighbor, Julia Theus, told CBS Denver 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."