A phone call reporting a burglary 16 minutes after Madeleine McCann went missing is believed to be a possible key piece of evidence in solving the case, it has been reported. The theory is said to centre on the burglar alarm being triggered to distract police resources from the abduction – robbing authorities of an hour dealing with the report.

In the minutes after she was abducted a decade a go, local police in Portugal were reportedly diverted to the burglary about 10 miles from the Praia da Luz resort where the McCann family were holidaying. The phone call to the Lagos police station, said to be from a Lisbon-based alarm systems company, was discovered in a new analysis of police phone records, The Sun reports.

The revelations come as a Portuguese investigator told The Mirror he believed the child was snatched and taken to a warren of caves nearby that have never been searched. The theory comes from ex cop Paulo Pereira Cristovao – who became the boss of Portugal’s missing children agency in the same year the three-year-old disappeared. He took the unusual step of criticising his fellow officers, saying human error is to blame for the failure to find Madeleine.