Police searching for missing Lancashire mum Nicola Bulley could be trying to trace a “tatty red van” which was seen parked close to where she disappeared two weeks ago.
It has now emerged that a concerned resident spotted a suspicious-looking vehicle, believed to be a Renault, outside a barn in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27. The witness contacted Lancashire Police to report a suspicious “red van” parked in the village close to where the 45-year-old went missing, the Mirror reports.
The 55-year-old witness, who had not been named, told the Times she was on the way to a cake shop when she saw a “tatty red van in Hall Lane outside a barn”. She added: “I didn’t think anything at the time, but when I saw Nicola had gone missing, I called 101 and spoke to an operator.
READ MORE: Nicola Bulley search update as investigation crews pictured off Morecambe Bay
“I contacted the police again on Friday and spoke to a police officer. It could have been a Renault van.”
The St Michaels on Wyre resident said the vehicle was the “sort of van you can live in”. Lancashire Police told the outlet: “We have received a huge amount of information into the enquiry, all of which is being looked at, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who has assisted our investigation so far.”
It comes as police search teams were on Thursday (February 9) spotted on the River Wyre, miles from where Nicola first went missing 14 days ago. A dinghy with two officers on board could be seen on the water, as the focus of the massive search shifted from where she vanished to farther downstream, towards where the River Wyre empties into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.
An orange rescue boat was also spotted appearing to do sweeps of the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the bay, around 10 miles downstream from where she vanished. Nicola had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school, then took Willow, her springer spaniel, for a walk alongside the River Wyre.
Police believe she fell in while on the walk, leaving her phone on a bench, still connected to a work call. Lancashire Police have dismissed any suggestion Nicola is a victim of crime and say the scale of the missing person inquiry is “unprecedented”, involving 40 detectives and following 500 lines of inquiry.
Multiple searches of the “hot-spot” area near the bench, the suspected “entry point” of where Nicola went into the water, have been conducted by police divers and underwater search experts. Nicola’s family called in help from Peter Faulding, of Specialist Group International, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace of her was found.
Mr Faulding said his searches confirmed Nicola was not in the section of river searched by his team and police divers, but described himself as “baffled” after ending his fruitless search. Lancashire Police say that though their presence around where Nicola disappeared would be less visible this did not mean a scaling back of the search but a shift in focus to further downstream in the area of the river where it becomes tidal and out towards the sea.
Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell has described the “perpetual hell” the family is suffering as they await news, with her daughters asking: “Where’s Mummy?”
Police have been given the power to break up groups causing a nuisance in the Lancashire village where Nicola vanished amid reports of people coming into St Michael’s on Wyre and filming properties for use on social media. Lancashire Police said the order was issued on Wednesday night after reports that people had come to the village from outside the county to film.
The order will remain in place for 48 hours and gives officers the power to disperse anyone committing anti-social behaviour. Police said two dispersal notices were issued and a number of other people were warned about their behaviour as the force warned it will not tolerate criminality, including trespass and criminal damage.
Officers had previously warned members of the public not to “take the law into their own hands” by breaking into empty or derelict riverside properties to try to find Nicola.
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