Tia Sharp: Hundreds search for missing Croydon girl

Missing poster made by Karon March
Image caption A poster made by Karon March is part of the community effort

About 200 people - some from as far as Wales - turned up to help in the hunt for missing south London girl Tia Sharp.

Tia, 12, disappeared after leaving her grandmother's home in Croydon, to go shopping at about midday on Friday.

Earlier, a police dog was taken into the house at the Lindens, New Addington, where she was last seen.

Police dog handlers will also conduct a search of the area and alleyway behind the house.

Det Ch Insp Nick Scola also visited the home and met members of the family.

He said: "This morning I have been in to see the family and update them with details of the investigation."

'Frantic' search

Meanwhile people gathered at Croydon Rugby Club on Tuesday to search nearby woodland.

Club secretary Sue Randall said: "People are coming from everywhere, from Swanley, even a couple from Wales because they thought they might be able to help and wanted to be involved.

"It's worrying. I've got four children and five grandchildren and I would be frantic if they went missing."

Image caption Candles have been left at a bus stop close to Tia's grandmother's house

She added volunteers were being accompanied by police officers in searches to avoid "contaminating evidence".

Earlier, police began searching the local wood, Birchwood, less than a mile from Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp's home in New Addington.

Alex Benham, of the rugby club, said several social networking pages had been set up appealing for information, adding: "It has been a real community thing."

One woman has posted a message saying: "I printed 2,000 flyers at work last night."

A poster created by Karon March, a supermarket worker, has been displayed alongside official police flyers.

Her husband, Steven March, said: "We've been standing in the middle of roads handing leaflets to drivers and going door-to-door.

"The community's really pulling together."

Gavin Barwell, the Conservative MP for Croydon Central praised the community, saying the response from people had been "absolutely magnificent".

Meanwhile The Sun newspaper has offered a £25,000 reward for information that will help police find Tia.

'Good as gold'

On Tuesday Tia's stepfather said the family was "in bits" and urged people to find "my little girl".

David Niles, 29, said Tia's mother Natalie was distraught and he had not slept for four days.

Wearing a T-shirt bearing Tia's image, Mr Niles said: "I just want to find my little girl.

"We're in bits, the whole country has helped us and is supporting us.

Image caption Tia Sharp was captured on CCTV on Thursday, the day before she vanished

"I haven't slept in four days. Natalie (Tia's mother) is in bits."

He said he last saw Tia on Thursday morning at the family home in Mitcham before he headed to work.

"She was good as gold," Mr Niles said.

"I know I am not her real dad, but I have been there since day dot.

"When she left the house she shouted: 'Bye' and 'see you by six'."

Tia's grandmother said she was pinning her hopes on new CCTV stills of Tia taken outside the Co-op in Featherbed Lane near her house at about 16:15 BST on the day before she went missing.

Police have scoured hours of CCTV footage but have not found any trace of Tia, who has never gone missing before.

She had been on her way to the Whitgift shopping centre, in Croydon, when she went missing.

Officers are particularly keen to hear from anyone in the Lindens area of New Addington who has information and appealed for any bus or tram drivers in the Croydon area who recognise Tia's description to contact them.

She is known to frequent the Croydon, Mitcham and Wimbledon areas.

Tia is described as white, 4ft 5in tall and slim, and was wearing FCUK glasses.

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