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Police return to Cleo Smith camping site to gather more evidence as AFP joins search

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Desperately searching for Cleo Smith, police have returned to the campground where the little girl went missing to gather more evidence as federal police join the hunt.

Agents involved in searches are turning their attention to the campsite, as police fear the four-year-old girl has been kidnapped and taken elsewhere.

Taskforce Rodia police took ash samples from several burned-out campfires near huts along the beach on Wednesday.

Chief Inspector Rod Wilde arrived at the Blowholes Campsite near Carnarvon last night to join nearly 100 officers on the ground.

The Australian Federal Police has also joined the suspected kidnapping case to boost search efforts with advanced technology, intelligence and forensic capabilities.

Police desperate for Cleo Smith (pictured) have returned to the campsite where the little girl went missing to gather more evidence as the AFP joins the hunt

It is clear that Taskforce Rodia police have taken ash samples from several burnt-out campfires near huts along the beach

It is clear that Taskforce Rodia police have taken ash samples from several burnt-out campfires near huts along the beach

Home Secretary Karen Andrews confirmed the AFP’s involvement in the hunt for little Cleo in parliament on Wednesday.

“Australians can rest assured that we will continue to equip our law enforcement and intelligence services with the tools and resources they need to fight this very serious crime – and especially crimes against children,” said Ms Andrews.

Her comments come as bounty hunters and private detectives have flocked to the town of Gascoyne to offer their services.

Civilian investigators have sent messages to locals via social media featuring a man hiring a helicopter to search an area hundreds of miles from the city, the Western Australian reported.

However, when approached by the publication, the man denied that he was a bounty hunter and instead investigated “oil” and “gas” deposits.

Police searched Cleo’s home for the third time on Wednesday as part of “routine practices” to rule out all possibilities.

Police searched Cleo's house for the third time on Wednesday as part of 'routine practices' to eliminate all possibilities (photo, the family)

Police searched Cleo’s house for the third time on Wednesday as part of ‘routine practices’ to eliminate all possibilities (photo, the family)

Little Cleo Smith and her stepdad Jake Gliddon, who 'raised her as his own' are pictured together

Little Cleo Smith and her stepdad Jake Gliddon, who ‘raised her as his own’ are pictured together

Cleo Smith's heartbroken stepfather (pictured in a green shirt and sunglasses) has returned to the family's home for the first time since his little girl disappeared from the Blowholes campsite in Western Australia 11 days ago

Cleo Smith’s heartbroken stepfather (pictured in a green shirt and sunglasses) has returned to the family’s home for the first time since his little girl disappeared from the Blowholes campsite in Western Australia 11 days ago

Forensic officers and detectives had spent most of Tuesday searching the house and left with two bags of evidence, though their contents remain unclear.

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 only been helpful. We’ve worked very closely with them, they’ve let us into their homes, they’ve let us in their cars, their phones, everything,” Blanch told 6PR.

‘That is a normal part of an investigation and we have to follow it closely.

“Our job is to eliminate everyone who was at that campground, and that’s a systematic and thorough approach to do that in every investigation. And that is really the focus of the research at the moment.’

Officers are also investigating CCTV footage of a car seen on a highway near the Blowholes campground in the time window in which Cleo disappeared.

The footage was taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3 a.m.

Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon have

Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon have

A troubled 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 vacation spot

A troubled 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 vacation spot

Two people on their way to work had previously told police they saw a car turning off on Blowholes Road at about 3am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police are now in the process of identifying the driver and number plates to determine if the car seen in the footage is the same as in the reports, 7News reports.

Meanwhile, the attempted kidnapping of a child several years ago at the Blowholes campground raised fears that a kidnapper could be operating in the region.

A newly surfaced social media post reveals that in 2014 a girl was approached by “a man in his late 40s with a beard driving a small red car” at the popular vacation spot.

The girl’s ailing mother filed a complaint with police at the time, warning that the man asked her daughter to “take a ride in his car,” but she refused and ran back to her family.

In the 2014 kidnapping attempt, the little girl was unable to provide a thorough description of the man’s appearance, and it appears that nothing ever came of the police report.

Detectives are now investigating footage taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway near the Blowholes campground, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3am.

Detectives are now investigating footage taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway near the Blowholes campground, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3am.

But she shared the message publicly, hoping to warn other parents who might bring their children to the area, adding that it would be a “good time to remind our loved ones of strange danger.”

There are now concerns within the local community that Cleo’s disappearance may be linked to the incident.

Since the message was initially unearthed, several people have reported it to Crime Stoppers, hoping any links will be thoroughly investigated.

Mr Blanch said that while they were “open minded” about Cleo’s disappearance, the “most likely” was that she had been kidnapped.

The four-year-old has not been seen at the Blowholes site near Carnarvon since the early hours of Saturday morning, October 16.

Cleo was last seen at 1:30 AM by her parents along with her mother Ellie, stepfather and baby sister Isla (right) on their first camping trip together when she

Cleo was last seen at 1:30 AM by her parents along with her mother Ellie, stepfather and baby sister Isla (right) on their first camping trip together when she

Ms Smith (pictured) urged anyone with information about the missing toddler to call the police because 'we want our daughter back and they want us'

Ms Smith (pictured) urged anyone with information about the missing toddler to call the police because ‘we want our daughter back and they want us’

Ellie Smith, the mother of the tearful four-year-old girl, told a TV interview Monday that the couple had barely been home and found it too painful to return without their daughter.

The little girl in pink pajamas slept in a tent next to her mother Ellie, stepfather and baby sister Isla on their first camping trip together.

She was last seen by her parents on October 16 at 1:30 am when she woke up asking for water.

But when her parents awoke at 6:30 am, little Cleo was gone, along with her red-grey sleeping bag.

A massive search by land, sea and air has been underway for nearly two weeks, but there are still no signs of the toddler and detectives have no solid suspects.

To flush out information, the WA government last week announced a $1 million reward for any information that could lead to Cleo’s whereabouts.

Cleo's heartbroken mother put the question on the lips of the entire nation in a desperate plea for answers she posted on social media last week

Cleo’s heartbroken mother put the question on the lips of the entire nation in a desperate plea for answers she posted on social media last week

Immense scrutiny has followed Mrs Smith and her partner Mr Gliddon since their nightmare ordeal began, with hordes of online sleuths and ‘amateur detectives’ pointing the finger at them.

The devastated couple vehemently denied any involvement in Cleo’s disappearance Monday night and made a heartfelt plea to bring her home.

Ms Smith urged anyone with information about the missing toddler to call the police because ‘we want our daughter back and they want us’.

As she wiped away tears, she also had a message for Cleo’s kidnapper: “Just give her back to us,” she said on Channel Seven’s Flashpoint program.

Ms Smith said on Tuesday she was overwhelmed by the generosity of Australians donating to a Gofundme page set up by a family friend.

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