Madeline McCann's father is a victim of London's very high crime rate, just an HOUR after he arrived in the city...

Madeleine's father robbed of daughter's photos during UK trip

by TOM KELLY, in Praia da Luz
20th June 2007
Daily Mail

Madeleine McCann's father was left distraught after a thief stole his wallet that contained precious photographs of his missing daughter.

The pickpocket struck as Gerry McCann withdrew cash from an ATM, just an hour after he arrived in London for a brief visit to organise the campaign to help find the four-year-old.

The wallet contained his three favourite pictures of Madeleine with her twin brother and sister, which his family say have never been publicly released and which he has no copies of.

Flying visit: Mr McCann, 39, was pickpocketed at a cashpoint at Waterloo station in central London

Mr McCann's sister, Philomena McCann, branded the thief a "dirty animal".

She said: "Gerry was at the bank to get some British currency, because he didn't have any at all.

"He took out £100 from a hole in the wall machine, put it in his wallet then popped it in his back pocket.

"He bent down to put something in his rucksack and some dirty animal had the wallet out of his back pocket.

"We don't care about the money, but we do care about getting the pictures of Madeleine back.

"There were three pictures, special ones that Gerry always kept with him, showing Madeleine and the twins.

"They were his favourites, really treasured pictures. How can you do that to someone who's been through what he has?

"He's already demoralised enough and to be put on the back foot like this, you can't believe some people can stoop so low.

Madeline McCann in an Everton football shirt

"He's desperate to get them back. He's not bothered about the money. He'd just like whoever stole them to hand them back because they're precious to him.

"The whole family have been overwhelmed by the support and affection from all around the world, but it takes just one rotten apple to bring you down.

"I hope whoever took the wallet is so ashamed when they realise what they've done that they get those pictures back to us as soon as possible."

Mr McCann, 39, was pickpocketed at a cashpoint at Waterloo station in central London after arriving in the capital on Tuesday for a two day visit to interview candidates for a campaign manager to help keep Madeleine's profile high.

He was forced to delay the series of meetings he had planned while he cancelled his credit cards.

Mr McCann, a consultant cardiologist, had earlier come to the rescue of a fellow passenger who collapsed during his easyJet flight from Portugal to Britain. The man, who has not been named, needed a full medical assessment on arrival in Gatwick and was taken by ambulance to hospital.

But his sister said Mr McCann had been typically modest about the help he provided.

She said: "Gerry spends his life looking after other people so in a situation like that, you just go into your natural modus operandi and help.

"It's what you're trained to do, it's who you are. He didn't make a big deal out of it because it's the kind of thing that he does all the time at work."

The trip to London was only the second time Mr McCann has returned to the UK since Madeleine was kidnapped.

He arrived back in Portugal to be reunited with his wife, Kate, and the couple's two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, who had stayed in Praia da Luz, the resort town where Madeleine disappeared 49 days ago.

Meanwhile, the holiday apartment where Madeleine McCann was abducted has been sold for less than half the market rate.

The two-bedroom flat has been purchased by an unnamed English couple for just £74,000, despite the going rate for similar properties being £150,000.

According to the Sun newspaper, estate agents are denying that the sale price of the Ocean Club apartment in Pria da Luz, Portugal, was halved due to Madeleine’s disappearance 47 days ago.

An insider told the paper: “It was quite a surprise tha it went on the market for such a low price and sold so quickly. You would think it would have been hard to sell but the buyers were obviously not bothered about its past.”

Madeleine's parents are also set to make an appeal on Irish television asking tourists to forward their holiday snapshots to British investigators in a bid to find their daughter.

Kate and Gerry McCann were planning to appear on RTE television to urge anyone with photos from holidays in Portugal in early May to come forward to help in their search for Madeleine, who disappeared from the Algarve holiday apartment she was sharing with her parents and two younger siblings around six weeks ago.

The Ocean Club apartments in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where Madeleine was snatched

'They wanted to appeal to any Irish person who may have been in the Praia Da Luz area around May 3 and ask them specifically to look at their digital photographs, to look at the backgrounds and look at the photos,' a spokeswoman for RTE said.

Irish tourists who visited the area in question should upload their photos to Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre website - www.ceopupload.com (external - login to view).

Speaking on the RTE Crimecall programme to be screened on Tuesday, the McCanns said they were overwhelmed with the support received from the Irish.

'There has been so much support from Ireland. We're overwhelmed. We'd reckon half the letters we have are from the Irish,' Mrs McCann said.

And pupils at the school missing Madeleine McCann is due to attend spelled out their own appeal to find the little girl today.

Youngsters at Bishop Ellis Catholic Primary School in Thurmaston, Leicestershire, lined up in their playground to spell the words "Find Madeleine".

The plea, best seen from the air, was captured by a photographer from a helicopter.

Head teacher Gail Neill said the school wanted to do its bit to keep Madeleine's disappearance in the public mind.

She said: "The message from our school is simple - help find Madeleine.

"She is out there somewhere. We urge people to be vigilant and keep on looking out. Now we are coming up to the holiday season - take posters with you, put one in your car, pin them up in service stations, give them out at airports, ask people to look out.

"We continue to pray daily for Madeleine and her family." And she stressed: "Madeleine is due to join our school in September."