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Madeleine McCann Police Hunt Three Burglars
British police investigating Madeleine McCann's disappearance are targeting three burglars whose phones were "red hot" after she went missing, Sky News has confirmed.
Metropolitan Police detectives want Portuguese investigators to interview the three men, who were in the area when the three-year-old disappeared.
Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said mobile phone records show the men made numerous calls to each other in the hours after Madeleine vanished while on a family holiday in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
He said: "Scotland Yard detectives, among many other things they did as part of their review of the Portuguese case, have examined mobile phone traffic and what's emerged is that there was an extensive use of mobile phones by these three individuals in the minutes and hours after Madeleine disappeared.
"They were suspected of burgling one or more apartments in the block where Madeleine and her family were on holiday in the days before her disappearance.
"Madeleine went missing and within minutes the phones of these suspects were 'red hot' - they were talking to each other an awful lot.
"Investigators have no idea what they were saying to each other. There are no recordings of the phone conversations, but the activity was such that it's raised suspicions."
Officers confirmed that the Crown Prosecution Service had sent an International Letter of Request to Portuguese authorities on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.
The letter effectively requests that Portuguese police track down the three men and either arrest them or ask them to explain the mobile phone calls made on the night Madeleine disappeared.
They are thought to have been living in the Algarve in 2007, but it is not clear whether they are still in the area.
A spokesman for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, told the Daily Mirror: "Whether the Portuguese will co-operate remains to be seen. It is a very sensitive issue with differences they have had.
"Police want to be given a chance to arrest key suspects. It doesn't prove they have Madeleine, but it will rule them in or out of the investigation and that is important.
"Kate and Gerry don't want to build up their hopes too high, but they realise it could be a significant new lead."
Any arrests would be the first since the Met set up Operation Grange in 2011 to review Madeleine's disappearance.
It is claimed that days before the little girl vanished, the gang raided another holiday flat in the Algarve resort, disturbing a child.
The youngster's parents reportedly interrupted the burglars, who fled.
Madeleine vanished from her holiday apartment while her parents were dining in a tapas bar 90 yards away.
Portuguese police reopened their investigation last year, more than three years after it was shelved.
It is running in parallel with the Metropolitan Police inquiry, but the Met commissioner has called for the two forces to work together as one team.
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