WA Police confirm there have been more than 200 suspected sightings of Cleo Smith but all were ‘unfruitful’
More than 200 possible sightings of Cleo Smith have been reported to West Australian Police since she vanished almost two weeks ago but all proved “unfruitful”, the lead investigator on the case has revealed.
“I want to thank the public for calling that information in and that’s been national as well — so there’s been some of those in other states,” Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told reporters on Thursday.
“Other policing jurisdictions have helped us and been there, and followed those leads through for us. We’re very grateful for that.”
Police suspect Cleo was abducted from the family tent at the Blowholes campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in WA’s north, on October 16. A $1 million reward has been offered for information to help find her.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister revealed the Australian Federal Police were using “very advanced capabilities” that were “leading edge” and it has since been reported by 7 News that it involves a reconnaissance spy plane.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson was asked about it during a press conference on Thursday, with a reporter querying the use of a plane almost two weeks after Cleo vanished.
“Obviously it’s a big police operation and in any such operation of this scale we reach out to police forces, not only across Australia, but indeed across the world,” Mr Dawson said.
“The AFP will, like others, assist us with whatever they can. We will accept any opportunity to expand any capability.”
Mr Dawson said he would not go into the specifics about the AFP’s particular involvement.
“We welcome any assistance from any police force around the world,” he said.
Asked again directly if it was a “spy plane or something like that”, Mr Dawson replied: “I won’t go into specifics.”
The AFP refused to comment when NCA NewsWire asked about it.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Wednesday told federal parliament that the AFP and federal agencies were supporting the work of the WA Police Force.
“Our thoughts are with the family and I can assure them that the advanced capabilities of federal law enforcement are being deployed to aid local efforts to find Cleo,” she said.
“Australians can be certain we will continue to equip our law enforcement and intelligence agencies with the tools and resources they need to combat this very serious crime, especially crimes against children.”
Late on Wednesday, police returned to the campground to collect ash samples from former campfires.
Officers also spent Thursday morning in Carnarvon’s light industrial area obtaining CCTV footage from businesses.
It comes after a report from two people who said they saw a car turn right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo vanished.
Police have been seeking CCTV and dashcam footage from people since Cleo’s disappearance.
When Det Supt Wilde landed in Carnarvon on Thursday morning and was asked if the case could be solved, he said: “We’re really confident.”
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon have vehemently denied having any involvement in the young girl’s disappearance.
“No way – we love our daughter and want her home,” Ms Smith told Seven’s Flashpoint program this week.
“There is no way that either myself or Jake could’ve done anything to hurt our daughter.
“She’s been taken from our family, from somewhere she’s meant to feel safe.”
Police have also said the couple are not suspects, nor is Cleo’s father.
Forensic officers have searched the family home three times and collected evidence in bags.
Police said the family had been helpful throughout the investigation and understood it was routine practice.
In a new Instagram post on Thursday, Ms Smith wrote: “If you know anything please call the police! We want our baby home.”
Ms Smith also posted a missing poster, promoting the state government’s $1m reward for information.
Bounty hunters have reportedly joined the search for Cleo in a bid to secure the reward, prompting a warning from police for people to stay safe.
“I think people — whether it’s for the money or whether it’s just to do the right thing and help find Cleo — people are up there trying to find what happened,” Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch said on Wednesday.
“There’s still a lot of land up there to cover. I just ask that people don’t put themselves in any danger in doing so.”
A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $83,000.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
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