Speaking to Sunday Night, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Andy Redwood revealed the area had a history of men breaking into holiday homes of British families and assaulting young girls.
“There had been 12 crimes between 2004 and 2010, when an intruder broke into the properties of UK families, within a 60km radius of where Madeleine disappeared. On six of those occasions, the intruder either got into bed with or sexually assaulted a young female child,” he said.
“What we can see here is clearly a man who has got a very, very unhealthy interest in young, white, female children, who he is attacking whilst in their beds while on their holidays.”
There was a four-fold increase in the number of burglaries in the area in the months before Madeline disappeared, smh.com.au reports, including two in the villa complex where the McCanns stayed.
But the details of these unsolved crimes – and the fact that a paedophile was at large in the area – were kept largely under wraps, with Portugese police naming the McCanns prime suspects.
“I think the Portuguese police and the Portuguese Tourist Board would have been quite keen not to feature the number of burglaries that were going on in Praia da Luz and other towns on the Algarve," forensic expert, Professor David Barclay toldSunday Night. "And the fact that random paedophiles going around taking children out of holiday apartments, would have probably been quite a disincentive to families turning up for their holidays."
"I think that's possibly an explanation why the Met recently were able to find more examples of indecent assaults on children than we'd been told about previously."
Speaking to Sunday Night, Madeline McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, voiced their frustrations with the Portugese police, who named them the prime suspects at the time and didn’t start a search for her kidnappers until 4.30am – hours after she was reported missing at around 10pm.
"The ludicrous thing is that Madeleine died in the apartment by an accident and we hid her body," Mr McCann told Sunday Night. "Well, when did she have the accident and die? 'Cause the only time she was left unattended was when we were at dinner, so if she died then, how could we have disposed of or hidden her body? You know, when there was an immediate search?”
Last week, a nanny working at the resort when Madeline disappeared revealed in an anonymous interview that staff had been told to wear “rape whistles” while working.