A manhunt was under way on Sunday evening after a young girl was spotted leaning out of a car window screaming that the driver was a rapist.
Police were searching for a speeding people carrier after the girl, thought to be around seven years old, yelled at passers-by for help from the front passenger seat.
She was one of four people in the car along with another girl, about 10 years old, an older girl thought to be in her teens and a man who was driving.
Officers were yesterday trawling through CCTV footage and speaking to nearby businesses in an urgent bid to trace the group after concerns were raised about their safety.
The incident took place in Crawley, West Sussex, on Saturday evening.
Two girls told police they saw the dark-coloured people carrier speed past in the direction of an Asda supermarket, being driven by a man with short dark hair.
The front seat passenger, who screamed that the driver was a rapist, was a girl of about seven with short, curly mousy-brown hair.
In the back was a girl of about 10 years who had long blonde hair and a second, older female who may have been an adult.
Detective Inspector Andy Bennett from Sussex Police said: "We need to find out who the people were in the car and need to speak to them urgently because we do not know whether they are in danger or not.”