NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 7-year-old boy named Patrick Alford vanished without a trace five years ago Thursday, and one police lieutenant has made it his mission to find the boy.

On Jan. 22, 2010, Patrick was with his foster-mother in a hallway taking out the garbage at 130 Vandalia Ave., at the Spring Creek Towers housing development – also called Starrett City — in East New York, Brooklyn. When she turned to go back to the apartment Patrick was gone, police said.

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As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, NYPD Lt. Christopher Zimmerman has been heading the search for Patrick ever since.

“Patrick if you are listening or watching this, please call 911,” Zimmerman said. “Wherever you are, I will have people come get and you, and bring you back.”

As police continue their investigation, they’ve released an age-enhanced picture in hopes of finding Patrick Alford. The photo shows how the child might look today as a 12-year-old.

Police on Thursday were also hitting the streets of Starrett City, hanging missing persons posters and offering a $12,000 reward.

“We’re, as they say, shaking the tree,” Zimmerman said. “We’re hoping that somebody had seen something that they maybe were dismissive about, that I would like to know about.”

Patrick was living at the Spring Creek Towers foster home while his biological mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, struggled with a substance abuse problem. For Rodriguez, the pain of her son’s disappearance has seared all along.

“I pray that Patrick is out there somewhere. I just want my son back,” his mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, told CBS2’s Maurice Dubois last February. “I think about my son every day. There’s not one day or one moment I don’t go without thinking about my son.”

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Police hold press conference in front of Brooklyn building where Patrick Alford was last seen and display time age-enhanced photo of him. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Police hold press conference in front of Brooklyn building where Patrick Alford was last seen and display time age-enhanced photo of him. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Zimmerman said he believes Patrick still lives, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“I believe Patrick’s alive. I absolutely think Patrick’s alive,” the detective said. “That’s what keeps us motivated.”

As neighbor James Marshall walked with his young grandson, he said he sympathizes with Alford’s family.

“It’s a shame that, you know, it’s so long that nobody ain’t come through with some information or something, and I hope the family gets some type of closure about it,” Marshall said.

The NYPD also hung missing persons posters in the Staten Island neighborhood where Patrick’s family lives.

Zimmerman said Patrick was last seen wearing “a red T-shirt, blue jeans and black and blue Jordan shoes and that was it.” He said he believed Patrick wanted to see his mother.

“We’re trying to refresh everybody’s memory, stimulate anybody’s thought process about Patrick Alford,” Zimmerman said.

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There is a $12,000 reward for information on his whereabouts.