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Madeleine McCann case to see "activity" soon, report says

Three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann in March 2007, two months before she disappeared in Portugal AP Photo/McCann Family

British police investigating the disappearance of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann say "activity" is expected to begin soon in Portugal, where the child went missing in 2007, reports the BBC.

The revelation comes amid several reports that Portuguese authorities gave permission for the search and excavation of sites in Praia da Luz, a coastal town 120 miles south of Lisbon.

Madeleine vanished shortly before her fourth birthday during a family vacation at a resort in Praia da Luz in May 2007. On the night the child went missing, her parents had left her alone in the resort while they went out to dinner nearby with friends.

The BBC reports that Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley would not detail the "activity" that is expected to take place in Portugal in regards to the investigation, but said he believed it would occur "in the coming weeks."

The network also said that Rowley sent a letter to media outlets asking them to "think carefully" about information they published. He reportedly pointed out that activity would cease if police in Britain released information or if reporters caused a disruption in regards to the investigation.

"We do not want to undermine our prospects of providing Mr. and Mrs. McCann with answers in this tragic case," Rowley said, according to the BBC.

British authorities announced in March that they had identified a possible link between Madeleine's disappearance and a series of twelve incidents between 2004 and 2010 in which a male intruder gained access to residences - primarily holiday villas occupied by families from the U.K. in the Western Algarve section of Portugal.

In four of those instances, Met police said, a man sexually assaulted 5 white girls, between the ages of 7 and 10, while they were in their beds. On one of those occasions, the man sexually assaulted two girls in the same residence, authorities said. They asked the public's help in identifying a man with a "questionable odor" wanted for questioning in connection with those cases and the disappearance of Madeleine.

Following that announcement, police said they were tipped off to another five sexual assaults and one near miss close to where Madeleine disappeared.

Portuguese police said they closed the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime. The case sparked global interest when pictures of Madeleine and her parents were beamed around the world. They were briefly considered suspects before they were cleared and returned home to England.

In late October 2013, Portuguese prosecutors ordered police to reopen their investigation, saying a review of the evidence found new leads.

The Portuguese investigation has run parallel with British police efforts. British police launched Operation Grange in 2011 to try to solve the case. British detectives have said it's possible that Madeleine is still alive.

The seventh anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance was marked on Saturday. Over the weekend, Madeleine's father, Gerry McCann, spoke out, saying the Metropolitan Police team was moving on to a "very active" phase in its investigation. He added that he hopes for a "happy outcome," according to the BBC.

Kate McCann, the child's mother, reportedly recently disclosed that she returns to the resort in Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared once or twice a year to "walk those streets" and "look for answers."

A $33,000 reward in the case still stands.


  • Stephanie Slifer On Twitter»

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

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