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Reward in Dulce Maria Alavez disappearance grows to $52,000

Dulce vanished Sept. 16 from a playground in Bridgeton, and investigators have not reported any major breaks in the case since.

Dulce Maria Alavez, 5, is the subject of a search in Bridgeton, N.J.
Dulce Maria Alavez, 5, is the subject of a search in Bridgeton, N.J.Read moreBridgeton Police Department (custom credit)

As the search for 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez drags on, rewards for information in the disappearance of the New Jersey girl have grown to more than $50,000, police said Wednesday.

Dulce vanished Sept. 16 from a playground in a large park in her hometown of Bridgeton, Cumberland County, and investigators have not reported any major breaks in the case.

Officials are still looking for a “key piece of information” that may help them crack the case and find the girl, said Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari Sr.

After Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 in Philadelphia contributed $5,000 to the reward, the unions representing New Jersey state police put up an additional $10,000, alongside two other donations of $1,000, bringing the total to $52,000.

The investigation has involved more than 300 local, county, state, and federal law enforcement officials, who have scoured more than 200 locations, contacted registered sex offenders in the area, reviewed video footage, and investigated more than 500 red vehicles, authorities said. Witnesses told investigators the girl may have been taken by someone in a red van.

After an Amber Alert was issued, more than 1,000 tips surrounding Dulce’s disappearance have been investigated, and dozens of court orders and subpoenas have been served, the police chief said Wednesday.

Officials have searched the Bridgeton area and the 1,100-acre park from which Dulce disappeared by land, air, and water — draining the park’s raceway and using sonar and dive teams to search other nearby bodies of water, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Friday.

Last weekend, members of the Bridgeton community searched the park again for signs of the missing girl, who was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala on the front, black and white pants with butterflies and flowers, and white dress sandals.

» READ MORE: Mother of Dulce Maria Alavez pleads for help as search continues for 5-year-old: ‘She’s just an innocent girl’

Anyone with information on Dulce can contact the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033, or the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center at 609-963-6900. Anonymous tips may be texted to TIP411 with “Bridgeton” in the message.

“Investigators continue to follow leads in the case and have gathered a substantial amount of information through interviews and technological means,” Gaimari said. “However, we are in search of key information that we believe exists through the public that would greatly assist the investigation.”

Staff writer Joseph A. Gambardello contributed to this article.