Police investigating the disappearance of three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann are now looking at 18 possibly linked lone intruder break-ins near where the girl disappeared in 2007, reports the BBC. The incidents reportedly include a 2005 assault on a 10-year-old girl in Praia de Luz, the same Portuguese resort where the child was staying with her family when she vanished.
Last month, British authorities announced they were investigating 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. Since then, more than 500 tipsters have called police with information, resulting in six new incidents coming to light, five of which involve alleged sexual assaults on young British girls.
"As a result of those 500 calls, we have now identified further five sexual assaults and one near miss. None of those six matters we were aware of prior to our appeal," said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, according to the BBC. "In this new tranche of information we have got one crime which is very clearly in the heart of Praia da Luz in 2005, on a young, white, 10-year-old girl. Clearly the fact that we've now got an assault that is in the heart of Praia da Luz, very close to where a previous matter had been reported, means that we are even more interested in this as part of the inquiry."
In total, nine of the 18 break-ins reportedly involved alleged sexual assaults on British girls from six to 12 years old.
Detectives reportedly said last month that families described the lone intruder as tanned, with dark hair. Some families told police he was bare-chested during the attack and appeared to have a pot belly, though two of the families said he wore a distinctive burgundy long-sleeved top, reports the BBC.
Three victims reportedly said he had a "noticeable odor." The suspect was said to have spoken English slowly, with a foreign accent.
Scotland Yard launched a new investigation into McCann's disappearance last July, and investigators are reportedly waiting on an agreement this week that would allow them to launch "operational activity" in Portugal.