A 10-year-old girl was snatched off the street by a motorist and then later sexually assaulted, police said today.
The youngster was targeted by a man who grabbed her as she left a shop in Fleetwood, Lancashire, and forced her into his vehicle.
The girl was abducted from Martindale Avenue and taken to Rossall Lane where she was attacked on an area of land opposite an equestrian centre.
Following the assault she ran across two nearby fields and alerted a member of the public who immediately contacted police.
Lancashire Constabulary has launched a major investigation into the incident which happened yesterday afternoon.
The offender is described as white, aged between 20 and 50, with very short hair. It is thought he was wearing blue jeans and a blue T-shirt. The car has been described as dark coloured, possibly green.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Esseen from the Force Major Investigation Team said: "This is a truly sickening attack on such a young and defenceless girl and I am appealing for anyone with information to contact us.
"We know that this car was parked in Martindale Avenue at around 1:15pm and I would appeal for anyone who saw it to come forward and contact us.
"We then know that after leaving Martindale Avenue they travelled to Rossall Lane. It is possible that he stopped during this journey. Did anyone spot this car parked up with the driver acting suspiciously? The car is likely to have left the scene on Rossall Lane at around 1:45pm and I would appeal to anyone who saw the car leaving the area.
"The girl is being comforted by her parents and close family and we have a team of specially trained officers interviewing her. She has been through a very traumatic ordeal and we are giving her all the help and support she needs."
Chief Inspector Tracie O'Gara, who is responsible for policing the Fleetwood area, said: "Incidents of this nature are extremely rare and I would reassure the public that we have increased police patrols in the area.
"I would ask that parents remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police." Anyone with information should call police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.