Little Cleo Smith’s name has yet to be added to the federal government’s missing persons register despite the youngster vanishing from an outback camp nearly two weeks ago.
An extensive search for the four-year-old – who vanished from a campsite near Carnarvon in north-western Western Australia in the early hours of October 16 – has so far proven fruitless.
Australian Federal Police officers have been drafted in to support forensic and intelligence efforts amid fears Cleo was abducted from her family’s tent.
There is no sign of her though among the 2,600 cases listed on the National Missing Person Register, which the AFP says is reserved for ‘long-term’ disappearances.
Cleo Smith, four, vanished from the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon in north-west Western Australia in the early hours of October 16
Cleo pictured with her family. An extensive search for the four-year-old has so far proven fruitless
The force says someone has to have been missing for at least three months before they can be added to the register.
At that point, federal police will only update the register if the relevant state or territory considers a missing person case to be ‘long-term’.
‘The cases listed do not represent every missing person in Australia that has been reported to police,’ the register reads.
A top criminologist earlier claimed forensic police who spent three days searching Cleo’s family home would have been looking for ‘signs of injuries or struggles’.
Detectives spent four hours on Tuesday scouring the property in Carnarvon.
Police then searched Cleo’s family home for a third time on Wednesday as part of ‘routine practices’ to eliminate all possibilities.
Her mother Ellie Smith and step-father Jake Gliddon have been ruled out as potential suspects in the ongoing police investigation as it enters its thirteenth day.
There is no sign of Cleo among the 2,600 cases listed on the Australian Federal Police’s National Missing Person Register
Police desperately searching for Cleo (pictured) have searched the campsite the little girl went missing from, as well as her home, to gather more evidence as the AFP joins the hunt
Crime scene expert Dr Xanthe Mallett though said it was important for police to look for ‘potential issues’ at the home before ruling it out as a line of inquiry.
‘They may be looking for signs of injuries or struggles, just to rule out any kind of potential issues that may have happened at home,’ the University of Newcastle criminologist told Sunrise.
‘You would have to look at the family, that would be part of the investigation sadly.
‘They need to make sure that they collect the evidence that may be available at the beginning so it is not lost so I’d certainly expect them to search that family property as part of any routine investigation.’
The expert said 13 days was a ‘really long time’ for a young child to be missing.
‘Obviously she could be anywhere in the country had she been abducted,’ Dr Mallett said.
Forensic detectives spent much of Tuesday scouring Cleo’s family home in Carnarvon and emerged with two evidence bags
‘It is a significant worry and every day that passes, obviously getting more concerned for her safety.’
Officers involved in search efforts have since turned their attention back to the Blowholes campsite amid police fears the four-year-old girl was abducted and taken elsewhere.
Police from Taskforce Rodia are understood to have taken ash samples from several burnt-out campfires near shacks along the beachfront on Wednesday.
About 100 officers are on the ground searching for Cleo and the AFP have joined the suspected abduction case to boost search efforts.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews confirmed the AFP’s involvement in the hunt for little Cleo in Parliament on Wednesday.
It’s understood police from Taskforce Rodia took ash samples from several burnt-out campfires near shacks along the beachfront
‘Australians can be certain that we will continue to equip our law enforcement and intelligence agencies with the tools and the resources that they need to combat this very serious crime – and especially crimes against children,’ Ms Andrews said.
Her comments come as bounty hunters and private investigators have swarmed to the Gascoyne town to offer their services.
Civilian investigators have been sending locals messages over social media with one man chartering a helicopter to search an area hundreds of kilometres from the town, the West Australian reports.
Police scoured Cleo’s family home for the third time on Wednesday as part of ‘routine practices’ to eliminate all possibilities (pictured, the family)
However when approached by the publication, the man denied he was a bounty hunter and was instead surveying for ‘oil’ and ‘gas’ deposits.
Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the search of the family home was ‘standard practice’ and did not indicate they were suspects in Cleo’s disappearance.
‘The parents have been nothing but helpful. We’ve worked very closely with them, they’ve let us into their home, they’ve let us into their cars, their phones, everything,’ Mr Blanch told 6PR.
Little Cleo Smith and her step father Jake Gliddon, who has ‘raised her as his own’ are pictured together
The heartbroken step father of Cleo (pictured in a green singlet and sunglasses) earlier returned to the family’s home for the first time since his little girl vanished from Blowholes campsite in Western Australia 11 days ago
‘That is a normal part of an investigation and we must follow it thoroughly.
‘Our job is to eliminate everyone that was at that campsite, and that is a systematic and thorough approach in doing so in any investigation. And that really is the focus of the investigation at the moment.’
Officers are also looking into CCTV of a car that was seen driving down a highway near the Blowholes campsite in the time window Cleo disappeared in.
The footage was taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway, which reportedly shows a sedan travelling down the road at about 3am.
A distressed mother revealed her daughter was approached by ‘a man in his late 40s with a beard driving a small red car’ while they were camping at the popular holiday spot
Two people on their way to work had earlier told police they saw a car turning south off Blowholes Road at about 3am on the day Cleo vanished.
Police are now working to identify the driver and registration plates to determine whether the car seen in the footage is the same one in the reports, 7News reports.
Meanwhile, the attempted abduction of a child several years ago at the Blowholes campsite heightened fears a kidnapper could be operating in the region.
A newly resurfaced social media post reveals a girl was approached by ‘a man in his late 40s with a beard driving a small red car’ at the popular holiday spot in 2014.
The girl’s distressed mother lodged a complaint with police at the time, warning the man asked her daughter to ‘go for a drive in his car’ but she refused and ran back to her family.
In the attempted abduction from 2014, the little girl wasn’t able to provide a thorough description of the man’s appearance, and it appears nothing ever came of the police report.
Detectives are now looking into footage taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway, near the Blowholes campsite, which reportedly shows a sedan travelling down the road at about 3am
But she shared the post publicly hoping to warn other parents who might bring their children to the area, adding it would be a ‘good time to remind our precious ones of stranger danger’.
There are now concerns within the local community that Cleo’s disappearance could be linked to the incident.
Since the post was initially unearthed, several people have reported it to Crime Stoppers, hopeful any potential links will be thoroughly investigated.
Cleo was last seen at 1:30am by her parents alongside her mother Ellie, stepfather and baby sister Isla (right) on their first camping trip together when s
Cleo’s heartbroken mother asked the question on the entire nation’s lips in a desperate plea for answers she posted to social media last week
Mr Blanch said while they were keeping ‘open minded’ about Cleo’s disappearance, the ‘highest probability’ was that she had been abducted.
The four-year-old hasn’t been seen since early on Saturday morning, October 16 at the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon.
She was last seen by her parents at 1.30am on October 16 when she woke up to ask for a drink of water.
But by 6.30am when her parents woke up, little Cleo along with her red and grey sleeping bag had vanished.