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Crucial CCTV footage has ‘gone missing’ at the rural property where a toddler vanished without a trace, a family friend has claimed.  

It’s been four days since Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak, three, was last seen playing at his family’s 256ha rural property in Putty, about 150km north-west of Sydney in the Upper Hunter.

AJ, who has autism and is non-verbal, was last seen playing on the porch – with his mother saying he was out of her sight for just a matter of seconds.  

Family friend Alan Hashem, who was at the property at the time AJ went missing, claimed someone had tampered with security cameras he had installed on a post high above the remote bushland road outside the home.

The Elfalak family with father Anthony, mother Kelly, AJ (pictured centre) and two of his brothers

The Elfalak family with father Anthony, mother Kelly, AJ (pictured centre) and two of his brothers

The Elfalak family with father Anthony, mother Kelly, AJ (pictured centre) and two of his brothers 

‘There’s one key factor and this probably the first time I actually mentioned this, I installed cameras on that post right there,’ he told the Today show on Monday.

‘There’s footage missing, unexplained. (We have footage from) days before, days after, but not during the time.

‘You know what’s more alarming? We installed it so high you can’t tamper with it and we had two mechanisms of storage, cloud storage and physical storage and there’s no data in that time slot.’ 

‘We provided the user name and password to the police, we provided them the actual original memory card. There’s a lot of explaining to do.’  

Nine reporter Gabrielle Boyle was quick to point out the strange nature of the decision to install CCTV cameras at the isolated property.

‘It must be said it is a very unusual location to have CCTV. This is such a remote location,’ she said.

‘Many of these farmhouses in and around this area are just little shacks, shantytowns if you will. These aren’t big established homes. This isn’t a fancy area.’

‘This is regional NSW. This is very rugged terrain not the type of place you would expect to have CCTV available and to think that that window where the little boy has gone missing is unavailable on that camera is just so strange.’ 

Family friend Alan Hashem (pictured) claims security cameras installed at the property where AJ disappeared have been tampered with

Family friend Alan Hashem (pictured) claims security cameras installed at the property where AJ disappeared have been tampered with

Family friend Alan Hashem (pictured) claims security cameras installed at the property where AJ disappeared have been tampered with

Mr Hashem was at the property helping AJ’s prepare lunch when the toddler disappeared.

The boy’s older brothers were in charge of keeping an eye on AJ as they played outside while their father was fixing quad bikes.

‘The oldest boy needed to go to the bathroom and took the youngest one AJ and he left him just inside the dining area,’ Mr Hashem recalled.

After a few minutes, the boy’s come out and entered through the other part of the house and the mother goes, “Where’s AJ?” 

‘The boys had a puzzled look on their face. We all stand up and at that moment I had the closest view to the driveway and noticed a white ute, we believe either a Mazda or a Toyota, a much older model. It was slowly driving through here. 

‘We didn’t think much of it but we did in the meantime, we had these ATVs, we had about four of them and we thought if AJ’s gone somewhere it’s not going to be far.’ 

He and AJ’s family are ‘without a doubt’ the toddler was abducted and didn’t get lost in remote bushland which back onto the property. 

Three-year-old 'AJ' Elfalak (pictured) disappeared from a rural property nearly 72 hours ago - with his family fearing he has been abducted

Three-year-old 'AJ' Elfalak (pictured) disappeared from a rural property nearly 72 hours ago - with his family fearing he has been abducted

Three-year-old ‘AJ’ Elfalak (pictured) disappeared from a rural property nearly 72 hours ago – with his family fearing he has been abducted

AJ’s mother Kelly insisted her son is ‘not a wanderer’ and ‘never leaves her side’, with his father Anthony adding ‘a kid doesn’t just up and disappear’.

Mr Hashem said AJ’s disappearance has shattered his parents and rocked the family to its core.

‘Just bring him home,’ he pleaded.

‘You don’t understand how much pain and anguish this family’s feeling. The reason why I am the spokesperson is because the mother is not coping and the father, he’s holding it together by a thread.’ 

In a worrying development on Sunday, with police still scouring the area for clues, a white ute from a nearby property was taken by police as they searched an abandoned shack.

Police also seized CCTV footage from a Colo Heights service station, which is a 40 minute drive south from Putty in the direction of Sydney, declaring it a ‘site of interest’.

Alan Hashem (pictured) said the security cameras were erected so high that no one could tamper with them, amid claims AJ was abducted

Alan Hashem (pictured) said the security cameras were erected so high that no one could tamper with them, amid claims AJ was abducted

Alan Hashem (pictured) said the security cameras were erected so high that no one could tamper with them, amid claims AJ was abducted

Police investigated a shack (pictured) on Sunday

Police investigated a shack (pictured) on Sunday

The derelict property (pictured) was cordoned off by police

The derelict property (pictured) was cordoned off by police

Police investigate a shack (pictured) about 1km south of the Elfalak’s family farm. The shack was derelict and full of rubbish, with police cordoning the property off on Sunday

‘I’m his universe. He holds my hand, all day and all night we are together,’ the boy’s mother told The Australian. 

She and the boy’s father joined the large search party, including police divers, the riot squad, trail bikes, drones and mounted officers, who were searching for the toddler over the weekend. 

His family even brought in a private helicopter to scour the area as police launched Strikeforce Jaylang to investigate the circumstances of AJ’s disappearance. 

‘He’s been taken. If he was around here, I would have found him by now,’ Ms Elfalak said.

‘I have searched the property… I’m still driving around and I cannot find him. If he was here, he’d be close to the property.’

Despite a search party being set up 10 minutes after AJ went missing, with four vehicles soon covering a large radius around the farm, he was nowhere to be found. 

Ms Elfalak also said she noticed a suspicious white ute driving away from her house in the minutes after AJ vanished. 

More than 130 SES and police searchers scoured the property on Sunday (pictured) with drones, mounted police, the riot squad and trail bikes all being brought in to help

More than 130 SES and police searchers scoured the property on Sunday (pictured) with drones, mounted police, the riot squad and trail bikes all being brought in to help

More than 130 SES and police searchers scoured the property on Sunday (pictured) with drones, mounted police, the riot squad and trail bikes all being brought in to help

‘I saw it, it was driving really slowly, I thought it was my neighbour’s,’ Ms Elfalak told The Daily Telegraph.

‘He’s not a wanderer… he never leaves my side.’

She was in the kitchen as AJ played on the porch, while his father was nearby in the yard fixing the chain on his quad bike. 

AJ was dressed in a grey top and pants with sneakers and is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, with short brown hair.

Officers on Sunday were seen talking to one of AJ’s older brothers – he has three brothers Michael, Patrick and Alexander – in a paddock near the house, with one of the young boys taking detectives on a re-enactment of his brother’s disappearance.

Alan Hassam – a neighbour and family friend who was helping Mr Elfalak fix his bike also said he spotted the ute. 

SES search crews (pictured) spent the weekend searching the area for the boy and are set to Monday - with rescuers warning of harsh and unforgiving terrain

SES search crews (pictured) spent the weekend searching the area for the boy and are set to Monday - with rescuers warning of harsh and unforgiving terrain

SES search crews (pictured) spent the weekend searching the area for the boy and are set to Monday – with rescuers warning of harsh and unforgiving terrain

The ute seized by police as a 'vehicle of interest' on Sunday night (pictured) as they ramped up the hunt for three-year-old AJ

The ute seized by police as a 'vehicle of interest' on Sunday night (pictured) as they ramped up the hunt for three-year-old AJ

The ute seized by police as a ‘vehicle of interest’ on Sunday night (pictured) as they ramped up the hunt for three-year-old AJ

He also described the little boy’s disappearance as ‘out of character’, saying he had never wandered off before.

The neighbour recalled hearing AJ’s mother raise the alarm and then stood up and spotted the vehicle – a white 1987 dual cab Toyota Hilux ute – driving down the road to the property. 

He said the ute drove along Yengo Drive, 100m from the family’s house, before going out to Putty Road – something he found unusual.  

‘We didn’t see it enter. We see every car that enters because it’s a dead end… Something’s not right. Something doesn’t stack up,’ he added.

Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak (pictured) went missing on Friday leaving his desperate parents fearing he was taken as he had never 'wandered off' before and was always by his mother's side

Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak (pictured) went missing on Friday leaving his desperate parents fearing he was taken as he had never 'wandered off' before and was always by his mother's side

Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak (pictured) went missing on Friday leaving his desperate parents fearing he was taken as he had never ‘wandered off’ before and was always by his mother’s side

On Sunday evening police seized a white ute from a property about 1km south of the Elfalak house, labelling the car a ‘vehicle of interest’. 

Pictures from the abandoned property show a dingy shack fitted out with old furniture, with the floors strewn with rubbish. 

Police cordoned off the area and are trying to ascertain if anyone had been staying there as part of their investigation, with 9News reporting it had been declared a crime scene.

They have also seized a number of items from the property, amid reports someone had been sleeping rough there.

CCTV was also pulled on Friday from a service station at Colo Heights 45km away towards Sydney which has been similarly labelled a ‘site of interest’.

A shack near where the white ute was found has been cordoned off as a crime scene (pictured)

A shack near where the white ute was found has been cordoned off as a crime scene (pictured)

A shack near where the white ute was found has been cordoned off as a crime scene (pictured) 

Anthony and Kelly Elfalak (pictured) have been out with the search crews over the weekend

Anthony and Kelly Elfalak (pictured) have been out with the search crews over the weekend

Anthony and Kelly Elfalak (pictured) have been out with the search crews over the weekend

Fifteen dams on the property are a focus of the search with one being drained on Sunday morning. 

‘It’s very stressful, a kid just doesn’t pick up and disappear,’ AJ’s father Anthony told 9 News. 

‘Not from here, not from these parts… we’re not doing too well,’ he added. 

Despite the desperation of the nearly three-day-long hunt, officials have asked the public to stay at home to avoid breaking Covid restrictions.

‘Police are absolutely looking into every angle possible in relation to AJ’s disappearance,’ Superintendent Tracy Chapman said. 

‘Obviously our focus is very much around the search and trying to locate AJ.’ 

Police seized a white ute (pictured) near the area where AJ was last seen on Friday - with locals joining search teams to comb the unforgiving terrain in search of the three-year-old

Police seized a white ute (pictured) near the area where AJ was last seen on Friday - with locals joining search teams to comb the unforgiving terrain in search of the three-year-old

Police seized a white ute (pictured) near the area where AJ was last seen on Friday – with locals joining search teams to comb the unforgiving terrain in search of the three-year-old

The search is set to continue on Monday with helicopters and drones searching from the air (pictured, rescue crews with police at the property on Sunday)

The search is set to continue on Monday with helicopters and drones searching from the air (pictured, rescue crews with police at the property on Sunday)

The search is set to continue on Monday with helicopters and drones searching from the air (pictured, rescue crews with police at the property on Sunday)

‘Searchers hit the ground this morning with over 130 actively searching this large property. The terrain is very difficult. We’re in a rural setting, there are various levels of elevation.’ 

‘We have been searching some of the dams and waterways.’ 

NSW Police said in a statement public assistance is not required in the search for the young boy and reminded people that Covid Public Health Order restrictions still apply in the region.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers. 

Search crews are set to continue on Monday. 

AJ went missing from his family home in Putty (pictured) 150km north west of Sydney on Friday

AJ went missing from his family home in Putty (pictured) 150km north west of Sydney on Friday

AJ went missing from his family home in Putty (pictured) 150km north west of Sydney on Friday

Source: DailyMail

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