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Man allegedly attempts to rob Adelaide service station with piece of stationery



A man is on the run after he allegedly picked up a mundane object from the counter and tried to hold up a service station with it.

A staff member at an Adelaide west service station faced a scary yet bizarre encounter when a man allegedly attempting a robbery threatened him with a piece of stationery.

SA Police were called to the Richmond Rd business at about 5.10am on Wednesday after receiving reports that a man had entered the store and threatened the employee, demanding that he fill a bag with cash.

Police allege the man picked up a pen from the counter and used it to threaten the staffer.

The employee wasn’t afraid of the man’s bizarre weapon of choice, refusing to hand over any money and chasing him out of the store.

The man, described as being of caucasian appearance with receding hair, was last seen running east along Richmond Rd.

He is about 180cm tall and wore a black jacket with dark-coloured pants and red, white and black Nike Air Max shoes as well as a face mask.

There were no reported injuries.

Police allege the same man walked into a cafe in Pirie St in the Adelaide CBD at about 8am and stole cash from the till.

He did not make any threats and no weapon were seen by staff members.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or sees the man is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or go online.

Originally published as Man allegedly attempts to rob Adelaide service station with piece of stationery




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Tullamarine crash: Van with nine people inside rolls, treated by paramedics



Paramedics have treated nine people at the scene of a nasty crash where a van rolled onto its side.

Nine people crammed inside a van have been injured after it crashed and rolled onto its side in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Emergency services were called to the intersection of the Western Ring Rd and Tullamarine Freeway in Tullamarine about 10.15pm on Tuesday.

Police believed a van carrying nine people rolled onto its side after it collided with another vehicle.

Everyone inside the van was treated by paramedics and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the other vehicle involved in the incident attended Broadmeadows police station and was assisting police with their inquiries.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Originally published as Nine people injured after van and car collide in Tullamarine




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WA: Police suspect alleged abduction of Cleo Smith was opportunistic



As the desperate search for Cleo Smith enters day 17, the lead detective on the case has revealed some new details.

Detectives believe it is “more than likely” that four-year-old Cleo Smith was abducted in an “opportunistic type event”.

Cleo disappeared from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16.

As the search for the young girl entered day 17 on Tuesday, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said it was likely Cleo was targeted in a short period.

“It’s more than likely an opportunistic type event,” he told 6PR radio.

“We know they got there … on the Friday night. It was getting dark and so there would have been limited opportunity for people to observe Cleo at that time.”

Cleo woke up at 1.30am, was given some water and went back to sleep, then her mother Ellie Smith realised she was missing about 6am.

Superintendent Wilde said police were examining how someone could take Cleo from the tent without attracting attention.

“That’s what we’re trying to resolve, that’s what were trying to understand,” he said.

“We’re doing a lot of work forensically … we’ve had over 1000 calls to Crime Stoppers.”

Superintendent Wilde said police confirmed Cleo was at the campsite via video footage on a parent’s phone that had a geolocation tag, as well as audio of her voice on CCTV at a nearby shack.

“We’ve got that CCTV but there’s also some video footage that we’ve retrieved off the parent’s phone that puts the fact that the family was there and Cleo was at the campsite,” he said.

“We’ve got some independent forensic material that corroborates that fact.”

Superintendent Wilde also said police had spoken to more than 110 people at the campsite but still wanted “less than a handful” of others to provide information.

“We still believe there may be a couple more that haven’t come forward for various reasons — they may have been camping further away,” he said.

“We are keen for those persons to come forward so we can speak to them. It may be that they witnessed something that may assist us.”

Superintendent Wilde said police were looking at all angles, including people close to the family, but again stressed Ms Smith and Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon were not suspects.

“We keep an open mind with things, but certainly there’s no evidence to suggest that they are suspects or had any involvement in Cleo’s disappearance,” he said.

“We cast the net far and wide, and we look at all of those possibilities … certainly people close to the family (and) all of the people that were in the vicinity.”

He said it was a painstaking process to go through everything.

Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch told ABC radio that the working theory was that Cleo was likely still in WA.

“We’ve tracked down people that we didn’t know, we’ve found them and we have eliminated them, and that’s our focus at the moment — eliminate as many people as possible,” he said.

Mr Blanch said the forensic work included mapping every inch of the area, using drones and satellite technology.

“Now we’re in a stage where we need to forensically go over that ground inch by inch to see what disturbances might be in nearby areas for any sort of evidence that might give an inkling as to what happened,” he said.

“It could be tyre tracks, it could be the sleeping bag — it could be anything.”

He said police were scouring through a heap of data, including phone tower evidence.

Police said on Monday that they were leaving “no stone unturned”, revealing officers had collected more than 50 cubic metres of rubbish from roadside bins as far north as Minilya and as far south as Geraldton.

A major focus of the police investigation has been centred on a mystery vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.

A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves Cleo’s disappearance.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as Police suspect the alleged abduction of Cleo Smith was opportunistic




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Darlene Avis Geertsema: $500,000 reward for info on Devonport cold case



A $500,000 reward is on offer for anyone who provides information that could help crack a 43-year-old cold case as the victim’s daughter pleads for answers.

The daughter of a woman who has been missing for more than 40 years has begged for anyone with information to come forward to help her family seek closure.

Mother of six Darlene Avis Geertsema, 30, was last seen leaving her Devonport home at around 10pm on October 23, 1978.

She left the Best St address in her 1977 red Holden Sunbird with registration number AS 4119.

While the car was found abandoned in a carpark near the Devonport Oval two days later, Ms Geertsema’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

At the time, Ms Geertsema was caring for her two youngest children while her oldest four daughters lived in Queensland.

Now her daughter Kathryn, who was just eight years old when her mother first went missing, is pleading with the public to help police uncover the truth about what happened to her mum.

She remembered her mother as a caring person whom she cooked with a lot.

“She always used to brush my hair every night before bed. I had very long hair, and she used to do the 100 strokes,” Kathryn said.

“We were her world. It was out of character for my mum to leave. She wouldn’t have walked out on us for sure, I know that in my heart. She would have never left me and my brother.”

Kathryn said losing her mother at such a young age was “devastating” and it was especially difficult at major life milestone events like weddings and births.

She said the family were still “fighting for answers” and knowing where their mother was would bring them closure to move on.

“I know it’s 43 years ago but we’re begging anyone with information to come forward,” she said.

“You might think it’s trivial but if anyone can remember anything please come forward and help us to get closure.”

Tasmania Police is offering $500,00 to anyone who can provide credible information to help crack the 43-year-old cold case.

Despite the ongoing efforts by investigators, officers couldn’t find Ms Geertsema’s body nor determine a motive for her disappearance.

A review into the circumstances of the mother’s disappearance began in July 2013.

Detective Sergeant Felicity Boyd said investigations would continue until Ms Geertsema’s body was located or the person or people responsible were prosecuted.

“We have explored several scenarios to explain Darlene’s disappearance, and whilst we maintain an open mind into the circumstances, we do not believe Darlene left the family home voluntarily,” Sergeant Boyd said.

“She would have never, ever intentionally left her children behind and would have never, ever stopped writing to her family.

“We have conducted extensive investigations and it has become increasingly apparent that Darlene is more than likely deceased and that she died in very suspicious circumstances.

“We owe it to Darlene’s children and family to find the answers behind her disappearance and someone out there holds the last piece of this puzzle.”

Anyone with credible information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or go online.

Originally published as ‘Help us get closure’: Daughter begs for answers over mother’s 43-year-old cold case




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Geelong crime: Swimming pool stolen at construction site in Wandana Heights



Police are investigating after thieves managed to steal this 7m, $14,000 item from a construction site.

Thieves have stolen a large $14,000 glass swimming pool from a construction site in regional Victoria sparking a police investigation into the bizarre theft.

The crooks entered the suburban Geelong premises on Moncrieff Cres in Wandana Heights and managed to haul away the 7m fibre pool on the back of a white truck on October 20 between 10.30pm and 11pm.

Police said the truck had grey and silver tape or plastic covering in what could be a company name on both sides.

It also displayed yellow ‘over-size’ signs on the front and rear.

The pool was described as a slate colour and the brand was ‘modern pool’.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Originally published as Thieves steal $14k pool from construction site in Wandana Heights




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WA Premier: Online trolls warned to stop comments about Cleo Smith’s parents



Online trolls saying the most ‘horrible and shocking things’ about the parents of missing girl Cleo Smith have been urged to ‘go back to a sense of decency’.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has hit out at online trolls who have accused Cleo Smith’s parents of being involved in the four-year-old girl’s disappearance despite police repeatedly saying they are not suspects.

Police suspect Cleo was abducted from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in WA’s north, on October 16.

Mr McGowan, who along with his young family has recently copped threats from anti-vaxxers over his Covid-19 vaccine mandate, said he could sympathise with Cleo’s parents after they were subjected to abuse online.

“They’re going through a huge amount of angst and pain and suffering — they don’t need this,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“I just don’t get why some people get all this courage when they get a keyboard, and they say the most horrible and shocking things that they would never say otherwise.

“I just urge them to stop. This social media world where people are just emboldened to say shocking and horrible things is awful.

“I just urge people to go back to a sense of decency and civility towards one another, particularly (towards) people who are suffering.”

Police have repeatedly said Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and biological father Daniel Staines are not suspects in the case.

When asked about the online trolls on Friday, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said it was terrible.

“They (the parents) have been very helpful. We’re doing everything we can to find out what happened to Cleo,” he told reporters.

“They’re holding up, but I just ask all members of the public, it’s not helpful for anyone to publish anything online.”

Cleo was last seen about 1.30am on that fateful day when she woke to ask for water.

About 6am, when Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon woke up, they discovered Cleo and her sleeping bag were missing, prompting a large scale search.

After authorities and volunteers found no trace of Cleo, police said she was likely abducted, revealing a tent zip was opened to a height the young girl could not have reached.

A desperate nationwide search for Cleo has so far resulted in no suspects, despite police looking into known paedophiles in the area and exploring other avenues of investigation.

Police have also repeatedly searched the family home, collected CCTV and dashcam footage, spoken to campers in the area and made repeated public appeals for information.

Detectives have also been keen to find the driver of a vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.

Superintendent Wilde previously revealed there had been more than 200 possible sightings of Cleo reported to police since she vanished but all had proved “unfruitful”.

A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves the girl’s mystery disappearance.

A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $86,000.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as WA Premier warns online trolls to back off with ‘shocking’ comments about Cleo Smith’s parents




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Cleo Smith: Mystery driver still unidentified in investigation into missing girl



Detectives investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith are growing more concerned about a mystery driver.

Police are yet to identify the driver of a vehicle seen in the middle of the night near the campsite where four-year-old Cleo Smith vanished almost two weeks ago.

Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde also confirmed police did not have any suspects “at this stage” in the mysterious case.

Police suspect Cleo was abducted from the family tent at the Blowholes campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16, and have been collecting CCTV and dashcam footage ever since in a bid to find her.

For the past week, detectives have been keen to find the driver of a vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.

Asked on Friday whether police were growing more concerned about the car given so much time has passed without the person coming forward, Superintendent Wilde said: “It’s a priority for us to identify who was in that vehicle so we’d like that person to come forward … we haven’t identified that vehicle yet and we’d like to do so.”

Superintendent Wilde also provided a timeline of that fateful day, starting with the call from Cleo’s distressed mother Ellie Smith at 6.23am.

The key times included:

  • Just before 6.30am the first car with two officers was sent to the scene under priority two, with lights and sirens going, arriving at 7.10am;
  • 6.41am a second vehicle was sent, followed by a third at 7.44am;
  • 7.26am a protected forensic area was set up at the scene;
  • 7.33am police requested a drone operator attend;
  • 8am some family and friends arrived to help with the search. Meanwhile, detectives visited the family home, then went to the Blowholes and began stopping vehicles close to the search area;
  • 8.09am a local company helicopter arrived to help with the search;
  • 8.11am SES team requested and they arrived just over an hour later;
  • 8.24am Inspector Jon Munday arranged to leave Geraldton to take command in Carnarvon. Police air wing and volunteer search and rescue were also contacted;
  • 8.34am police set up a roadblock at the Blowholes;
  • 9.30am detectives sat with Ms Smith and remained with her all day; and
  • 11am homicide detectives were deployed.

Asked why police did not lock down the campsite immediately when officers arrived at the scene, Superintendent Wilde said: “Obviously, the first police getting there had to establish what’s actually taken place.”

He further added: “It’s a large area … they did a great job by establishing a protective forensic area, containing the tent and all the evidence that may be contained within that immediately, so the first officers at the scene did a really good and thorough job.”

Asked why the marine search was called off early, he said police relied on experts regarding the terrain and water conditions.

A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves the girl’s mystery disappearance.

Superintendent Wilde previously revealed there had been more than 200 possible sightings of Cleo reported to police since she vanished but all had proved “unfruitful”.

He said on Friday that Cleo’s sleeping bag also remained missing despite some calls from the public.

Ms Smith and Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon have vehemently denied having any involvement in her disappearance.

Police have also repeatedly said they are not suspects, nor is Cleo’s father.

But that has not stopped some internet trolls from accusing them.

“That’s terrible,” Superintendent Wilde said when asked about the online abuse on Friday.

“They have been very helpful. We’re doing everything we can to find out what happened to Cleo.

“They’re holding up, but I just ask all members of the public, it’s not helpful for anyone to publish anything online.”

Forensic officers have searched the family home three times and collected evidence in bags.

They have also returned to the campsite to collect ashes from old camp fires.

A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $85,000.

“We are thinking of you and beautiful Cleo all the way from London, England,” one donor wrote.

“We pray and wish her home soon safe and well xx from one mummy to another.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as Police continue to search for mystery driver during the probe into the disappearance of Cleo Smith




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WA: ‘Spy plane’ used in search for missing girl Cleo Smith



The WA police commissioner has been quizzed on suggestions a ‘spy plane’ was used during the search for missing girl Cleo Smith.

Western Australia’s police commissioner has brushed off suggestions a “spy plane” has been used in the search for suspected abduction victim Cleo Smith, as officers returned to her last known location to collect campfire ashes.

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 Blowholes campground in Macleod, where it is suspected Cleo was taken from the family tent on October 16, 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.

Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde landed in Carnarvon on Thursday morning.

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.

Originally published as WA Police refuse to confirm reports a federal ‘spy plane’ has been used in the search for Cleo Smith




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Cleo Smith disappearance: Bounty hunters join search for missing girl



A new group has joined the search for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith as her heartbroken mother pleads for her baby to come home.

“Bounty hunters” have joined the search for Cleo Smith in the hope of securing the $1m reward for information that brings the missing four-year-old home.

West Australian Police have said they welcome assistance from anyone who can help find Cleo, who vanished 10 days ago from her family’s tent at the Blowholes Campground on the remote coast north of Carnarvon.

After a frantic and extensive search of the water and rugged terrain around the campsite, police now believe Cleo was likely abducted while her mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and younger sister Isla were asleep.

A grief-stricken Ms Smith has said she last saw Cleo at 1.30am on Saturday, October 16 when her daughter woke to ask for a drink of water.

On Monday, she issued another heartbroken plea on social media for Cleo to come home, asking: “Where are you, baby?”

On Instagram, Ms Smith wrote “we all need her home” and described her as the “best big sister ever”.

Mr Gliddon also shared an image of the missing poster in his first post on Instagram since Cleo vanished.

Police have said the entrance to the tent nearest to where Cleo was sleeping was found unzipped at a height the young girl could not have reached.

Her sleeping bag was also reported missing.

Deputy police commissioner Col Blanch said on Monday that the official search in the vicinity of the campground had concluded.

He was asked by a reporter whether people searching for Cleo to claim the financial reward were a help or a hindrance to police.

“We do welcome anyone who can help find Cleo. I will ask that people not put themselves in danger or at risk in doing so,” Mr Blanch said.

“We would ask everyone (in the area) to check their sheds, their cars, their old cars, locations that might be abandoned — that’s something that I would encourage.”

In a significant development in the investigation, detectives revealed on Sunday that they had been tipped off about a car seen leaving the area shortly after Cleo was snatched from her family’s tent.

Mr Blanch said on Monday that officers were still trying to track that car down.

The top priority for police was for every person at the campsite on that Saturday morning to come forward to investigators, he said.

Mr Blanch said there had already been an enormous amount of public assistance to police, particularly from locals in Cleo’s hometown of Carnarvon.

“A significant amount of Crime Stoppers reports have been flooding in ever since the $1m reward has come out,” he said.

“I’d say it’s not just because of the reward — the public, particularly in Carnarvon, have really put in a monumental effort to ask for help on the investigation of the disappearance of Cleo.”

Premier Mark McGowan last week announced the WA government would offer the reward and on Monday said he was hoping for a “good outcome” in the case.

“If you’ve got her in your custody, please just give her back to her family,” he said.

Perth MP Patrick Gorman also issued a passionate appeal to the public for information in federal parliament.

“Police do not know where she is … Carnarvon is some 900km north of Perth, but Cleo could now be anywhere,” he said on Monday.

“Wherever you are in Australia, if you know anything, please come forward.”

A candlelight vigil for Cleo was held in her hometown on Sunday night, which Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith said was very well attended by members of the close-knit community.

“We look after our own. They’re pretty stoic but this one is hurting. Everyone’s pulling together and trying to help each other as much as possible,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“I’m quite proud of our town and the way they’ve hung in there together.

“If anybody sees or hears anything, please tell the police.”

Police previously said they had spoken to about 20 registered sex offenders who live in the Carnarvon area.

On Monday, it was revealed the missing dangerous sex offenders register — a public database of offenders whose location is unknown to police — was temporarily shut down over the weekend.

A “server error” believed to be linked to a technical issue meant the register was inaccessible on the WA government website, but it was back online by Monday afternoon.

Originally published as Surprising new group joins search for Cleo Smith as her mother asks: ‘Where are you, baby?’




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WA police question man over death of person found in Kununurra



West Australian police are questioning a man over the death of an adult whose body was found in bushland on Sunday.

A man is being questioned by West Australian police after an adult was found dead in the state’s far north.

The body was located about 4pm on Sunday in bushland east of Kununurra.

Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the circumstances leading to the person’s death.

WA Police said on Monday that a man was in custody and assisting police with their inquiries, but no charges had been laid.

The body is yet to be identified, but police have confirmed it is an adult.

Police say there is no ongoing threat to the public.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as Man being questioned by police after body found in remote Western Australia




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