New Jersey police were searching for a 5-year-old girl who disappeared from a park in Bridgeton while playing with her 3-year-old brother.

Dulce Maria Alavez was last seen Monday afternoon at City Park playing near the swings. Her mother was in a car nearby with an 8-year-old relative and didn’t notice she was missing until her brother returned to the car alone, prompting the mother to search the park before reporting her missing to police.

Bridgeton police interviewed possible witnesses at the park before issuing a statewide Amber Alert Tuesday night on its Facebook page.

It is believed Alavez was abducted by a man driving a red van that was parked near City Park. He allegedly led Alavez toward his van before getting her into the backseat. He quickly hopped in the driver’s seat and drove away around 4:20 p.m. 

The suspect was described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, thin, with light skin, and acne. He was wearing a black shirt, red pants and orange sneakers.

Alavez is 3-foot-5, with black hair. She was wearing a yellow shirt with a koala bear on it, black and white pants, and white sandals.

More than 50 officers from nearby police departments, as well as officials from the local fire department, K-9 units, and the FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team are aiding in the search.

Anyone with information pertaining to this case is encouraged to contact the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at 609-882-2000, ext. 2857, or the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033.

Bridgeton is in southern New Jersey, about 40 miles south of Philadelphia.

(Thomas Kika contributed to this report.)

police line Representation image of a crime scene. Photo: Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay