Family fears boy, 3, with autism 'was taken' from NSW rural property

·News Editor
·2-min read

A desperate search is underway for a three-year-old child who is missing on a rural property in the NSW Hunter region.

Police were alerted to reports of a child missing at the property on Yengo Drive, Putty, about 75km south of Singleton, just before 12.30pm on Friday.

Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak could not be located after he was last seen at a home on the property about 11.45am.

Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak is pictured. The boy, 3, has gone missing in the NSW Hunter region.
Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak has been missing since Friday afternoon. Source: NSW Police

The three-year-old has autism and is non-verbal.

He is described as being of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern appearance, with short dark hair and believed to be wearing a grey jumper and pants, and sneakers.

Officers have started a coordinated multi-agency search, including Trailbike officers, Police Rescue, the Dog Unit, police divers and PolAir.

Police are being assisted by NSW Ambulance, State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA).

The search had continued overnight and more than 100 volunteers were taking part in Saturday's efforts.

Search crews on the ground during the Putty search. Source: 7News/YouTube
Search crews on the ground during the Putty search. Source: 7News/YouTube

Family concerned AJ may have been taken

AJ's family fear the boy may have been taken from the property, family friend Alan Hashem wrote in a Facebook post appealing for community members to keep any eye out for the child.

"Four ATVs (quad bikes) were dispersed immediately within the 10-minute window that AJ went missing and covered a large radius and could not find him," he wrote.

"This child has never wandered before."

Mr Hashem said the property covers 263 hectares (or 650 acres).

When asked about the family's concerns that AJ was taken, NSW Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman said they were "looking into all avenues of that particular issue, but many others as well".

"We're currently assessing the requirement for an amber alert," she said.

Supt Chapman said she understood the sentiment of people wanting to help with the search.

"We appreciate that, but we are still in the middle of a pandemic across NSW," she said.

Dams on the property had been drained for police divers to look for the three-year-old, but nothing was found.

with AAP

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Crime Stoppers NSW website.

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