YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — One of the most common questions we’ve heard about the case involving the two kidnapped girls from York, and one we’ve been asking ourselves is why haven’t police issued an AMBER alert?

Police have to meet certain criteria before an AMBER alert can be activated. Police say in this investigation, information was changing every few hours as they tracked the suspect.

AMBER alerts are activated to help find abducted children. So why weren’t alerts issued for Giana and Amena Vicosa when York Area Regional Police discovered the two girls were reportedly abducted by their father, Robert Vicosa on Monday afternoon?

“AMBER alert typically is information that is put out, that we have substantial information that we can say definitively this person is in this car with this registration plate,” York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon said.

According to state police, a Pennsylvania AMBER alert can only be activated if an abducted child under 18 is believed to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Police must also consider how much time has passed since the children were last seen and if there is descriptive information that can help recover the children.

According to York Area Regional Police, the department was ready to issue an AMBER alert Tuesday when a car reportedly stolen by the suspect was identified. “The reason that didn’t go out is because I wanted to inform the mother of these two children that an AMBER alert was going to hit her phone. Before it hit her phone, within seconds the car was located,” Ken Shollenberger of the York Area Regional Police said.

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And as the situation continued to change, police say they did not want to issue an AMBER alert without having specific, reliable information. “We do not want to put an AMBER alert out to have everyone in the public to find a male that matches the description with two little girls and have everyone in the world harassing them. We want definitive information that the people are going after are the people we actually want,” Shollenberger said.