The first breakthrough in the investigation into the disappearance of Jade and Hannah Bennett and their foster parents, Jeff and Jenny Bramley, came on Wednesday in York when a man reported the car, which may have been there for up to five weeks, to police.
Cambridgeshire police, who have been leading the inquiry, said coats belonging to Jade, five, and Hannah, three, and documents relating to them, were found in the car.
Mr and Mrs Bramley disappeared from their home in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, on 14 September with the two girls they had hoped to adopt. They had been due to meet Cambridgeshire County Council social service officials, who planned to take the children back from the couple because they were unable to provide the "special home" the girls needed. Their natural mother put Jade and Hannah into care because she was unable to look after them.
A nationwide search and televised appeal for information turned up few leads on the family. The couple are thought to have drawn a large sum of money from their bank account before vanishing.
Police were yesterday appealing for people near the city's railway station for any information about the car or sightings of the family. The area has a mixture of bed and breakfast and residential accommodation nearby and it is believed the family could still be in York.
Detective Sergeant Mark Nicholson said: "We will now be closely examining the vehicle and hope its recovery will give us further clues as to where this family are now."
He said the car, reported to police at lunchtime on Wednesday, had four new tyres and it was suspected that a garage in the York area had worked on it recently. Officers were also checking whether the family were caught on closed-circuit television cameras.
Last month a High Court judge appealed for public help in tracing the family. Mrs Justice Hogg said she was concerned for the safety of the girls and worried that their health and education needs were not being met.Reuse content