If anyone had become aware of three things, that the T9 were habitually leaving children unattended in block 5 while eating in the Tapas Restaurant in the evening, that a check schedule was actually quite predictable, and that the McCanns were in the habit of conducting such checks via the patio doors of apartment 5A, then the method behind a planned abduction becomes extremely simple.
If the source of this knowledge was the note in reception, referred to by Kate McCann and Gonçalo Amaral in their books, then the potential abductor could also have realised that the last date for an abduction would be Friday 4th May. Some or all of the T9 could have checked out on Saturday 5th May, potentially ending the window of opportunity.
Much has been made of various ‘strange’ men in or around block 5 in the days leading up to Madeleine’s disappearance. Personally, these seem of little import. It is true that an abductor might scope the area around block 5 during the day. Given the small size of the area, that would take very limited time and could be done in a casual and non-strange manner.
The key to success in a planned abduction is knowing that the McCanns used the rear patio doors for their evening checks. During the day, if Kate and Gerry’s statements are to be believed, the rear patio doors were used at times by the children. If used for exit, one parent would take the children, while the other locked the patio door then went out through the front door then via the car park. If used for entry, one parent would go ahead through the car park, open the front door, then unlock the patio doors to let the other parent in accompanied by the children.
Of course, if this evidence from the statements is inaccurate, and a times during the day both parents would exit via the patio doors, then apartment 5A was more vulnerable than they have described. However, this information does not in itself give the link to children left unattended in the evening inside 5A.
If an abductor had access to a key for 5A, it was not necessary for that person to know the patio doors were being used. However, if the plan was to enter and exit 5A via the front door, then an abductor had to have a method of monitoring the movements of those of the T9 who were carrying out checks, namely the McCanns and 3 other parents. During that monitoring, an abductor would have realised that the McCanns were not using the car park route, and therefore that the patio doors must have been unlocked.
I would therefore place more weight on sightings in and around block 5 that took place in the period of 8:30 to midnight, as that would suggest the T5 who were checking were being monitored to determine a pattern in their movements and/or rehearsing the operation. As far as I am aware, there are no such sightings in the JP file.
Summarising this, the best chance of a planned abduction working is knowing that the children were left in 5A in the evening, and that the McCanns used the patio doors to check while the other parents used their front doors.
This knowledge would allow me to determine that the areas marked in red on the following graphic were within the visual zone of the T5 checkers, and therefore represent poor places to launch a planned abduction.
Although Rajinder Balu, Neil Berry plus wives on the balcony of 606 appear at first to be relevant, they actually add nothing to the T5 visual zone. As it happens 606 is on the extreme east of block 6 on the first floor. It is not possible to monitor the area around block 5 from 606, only the Tapas reception area.
The green dot in the graphic is the optimum location for an abductor on the evening of 3rd May 2007. It is in the passageway that runs behind blocks 4 and 5 and between those and the Tapas restaurant and pool area.
Specifically, the optimum location is behind block 4 rather than block 5. The part of the passageway to the rear of block 5 is a pedestrian shortcut from the front of block 4 to the Tapas reception and other places to the south of this. It is not a shortcut from the front of block 5, as it is longer to take this route rather than go through the car park of block 5.
All of the apartments on the ground floor of both block 4 and block 5 should be using the fronts of the blocks for entry and exit, in order to leave their flats secure. The McCanns should be the only exception to this rule.
Therefore the chance of traffic in the passageway is small, and the chance of traffic to the rear of block 4 is negligible. Before the abduction occurred there was no crime, so even if challenged the worst outcome would be the need to abort the operation, remaining totally innocent.
Apart from a very low degree of risk in the lead-up to an abduction, the passageway offers two additional benefits. The first is a view of the Tapas restaurant, where the T9 would gather and settle into a routine. The restaurant was, of course, lit up, permitting a reasonable view of the comings and goings of the group. The second advantage of the location is that the passageway is unlit, with the exception of street lights near each end. So in this spot an abductor could monitor the T9, but it would have been hard for anyone in the Tapas restaurant to see a person located there.
After this, the operation becomes a piece of cake.