Police appeal for information in ongoing probe into Cleo Smith’s disappearance

Angie RaphaelNCA NewsWire
Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith is desperate to find her daughter. Supplied by ABC News/James Carmody
Camera IconCleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith is desperate to find her daughter. Supplied by ABC News/James Carmody Credit: Supplied

Police investigating the suspected abduction of four-year-old Cleo Smith have made a new public appeal for CCTV or dash-camera footage, particularly from businesses.

Cleo was staying in a tent with her family at the coastal Blowholes Campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, when she was reported missing about 6am on Saturday.

After almost one week of searching the rugged terrain for the young girl, police finally confirmed on Thursday it was likely she had been taken from the tent.

That was largely due to the fact that no body had been found and the tent zip had been opened higher than Cleo could have reached. Her sleeping bag was also missing.

Cleo Smith vanished on Saturday. Instagram/Ellie Smith
Camera IconCleo Smith vanished on Saturday. Instagram/Ellie Smith Credit: Supplied

The state government also announced it was offering a $1m reward for information that resulted in finding Cleo, or led to the arrest and conviction of whoever was involved in her suspicious disappearance.

On Friday, police renewed their plea for evidence from the public and made a strong push for information from businesses.

“Detectives are calling for anyone with CCTV or dash-camera footage that may assist with the investigation,” police said in a statement.

“In particular, detectives are seeking dashcam, CCTV or any other footage within a 1000km radius of the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon, but only as far south as Lancelin.

“The specific footage requested is that recorded between 6pm on Friday, October 15 and 6pm on Sunday, October 17.”

Detectives are particularly interested in motel check-in and communal areas, service stations, fast food outlets and bakeries, truck stops and free camping areas, children’s clothing stores, pharmacies and cosmetic stores, and camping stores.

Anyone with footage that may assist the investigation, can upload it here.

Police have also sent an audio link to the media for radio stations to run a community service announcement, calling on the public to help find Cleo.

The search for Cleo at the campsite was scaled back on Thursday evening, with more crews packing up on Friday.

A special taskforce of more than 100 officers has been formed to investigate Cleo’s disappearance.

Superintendent Rod Wilde, who is leading the taskforce, said police were hopeful of finding Cleo alive but held “grave fears” for her safety.

“Given the information now that we’ve gleaned from the scene, the fact that search has gone on for this period of time, when we haven’t been able to locate her ... that leads us to believe that she was taken from the tent,” he said on Thursday.

Asked if she was likely abducted by a stranger, he said police were keeping an open mind and looking at all of the possibilities.

Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon have spoken about her disappearance. Supplied by ABC News/James Carmody
Camera IconCleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon have spoken about her disappearance. Supplied by ABC News/James Carmody Credit: Supplied

Cleo’s devastated mother Ellie Smith said this week that she knew her daughter would not wander off.

“Everyone asks us what do you need and really all we need is our little girl home,” she said.

“We sit and watch the sand dunes and think she’s going to run down it and back into our arms, but we’re still waiting.”

On Thursday, Ms Smith posted on Instagram: “My sweet girl, come home to me. If anyone sees anything at all, please call the police.”

Between 10 and 20 registered sex offenders live in the Carnarvon area but police said this week that there were no suspects.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by local man Bill Kent to help Cleo’s family and the search efforts, so far raising more than $68,000.

Cleo’s disappearance has made headlines in countries around the world, including the UK, US, New Zealand and India.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 131 444.

Originally published as Police appeal for information in ongoing probe into Cleo Smith’s disappearance

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