Police seeking a missing couple fear they may have been sleeping in a tent with a newborn baby in sub-zero temperatures.
Officers are working to trace Constance Marten, 35, Mark Gordon, 48, and their newborn baby after their car was found on fire on the M61 near Bolton almost two weeks ago.
They have established they the family went into Argos in Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel, at 6.19pm on Saturday, January 7 to buy camping gear.
Mark went in alone and bought two bags of items, paying in cash, including a blue, two-person tent, sleeping bags and two pillows.
He left the shop at 6.40pm.
The couple then spent just over three hours walking around the Whitechapel Road area where they tried to flag down three black cabs, but were refused.
They then left on foot and began walking along Brick Lane towards Bethnal Green at around 10pm.
Police say Mark is often seen walking alone ahead of Constance and the baby.
This is the last official sighting of the family.
Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are extremely concerned that a newborn baby – less than a week old at the time on 7 January – has been exposed to sub-freezing cold temperatures if Mark and Constance have been camping out somewhere as our evidence suggests.
“No child, especially a tiny, newborn baby, should be forced to endure such dangerous, potentially life-threatening, conditions.
“This is why it is absolutely vital that anyone with information about their whereabouts contacts us as a matter of urgency – whether it is with a recent or older sighting. Every piece of information is crucial to enabling us to find the baby and ensure it is okay.
“My officers will continue working tirelessly behind the scenes to piece together the family’s movements and current whereabouts. It could be that they are trying to blend in with homeless communities, either here in London or further afield, or they could be camping in more rural or wooded areas.
“They could be absolutely anywhere in the country.
“Please keep your eyes peeled, especially while you are out and about in waste ground or beauty spots, or while you’re walking the dog, and report any information, no matter how insignificant you think it is, to us.”
The couple have been missing since January 5, when police in Lancashire were called to a car on fire on the hard-shoulder of the M61, near junction four near Farnworth, Bolton.
Police enquiries revealed that Constance and Mark were the occupants of the car and that Constance had given birth, possibly one or two days before but had not been assessed by medical professionals.
The couple had abandoned the car, and is believed most of their belongings were destroyed in the fire.
Greater Manchester Police launched a missing persons investigation and established that the family walked to the Anchor Lane bridge, which links the Highfield and Little Hulton areas.
Police believe they travelled to Liverpool and then to Harwich in Essex via a taxi at about 3.30am on Friday, January 6.
Mark, Constance and a baby were seen by a member of the public in Harwich at about 9am on Saturday, January 7.
Police also received a number of confirmed sightings of the family in Colchester on Friday, January 6 and Saturday, January 7.
The investigation was handed over to Essex Police on Monday, January 9.
Essex Police reviewing CCTV and were able to place the couple near East Ham Station between 10.30am and 12.30am on Saturday, January 7.
The investigation was handed over to the Metropolitan Police Service on Thursday, January 12.
Detectives have now established that they took a taxi from East Ham, being dropped off in Whitechapel Road at 6.14pm.
The couple are seen leaving the taxi with an orange carrier bag and a pram. They both have their heads and faces covered and Mark is wearing white plastic bags on his shoes.
Anyone wwith information on the family’s whereabouts should call the incident room on 020 7175 0785.
Alternatively, information can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.