Missing Australian toddler Cleo Smith couldn't open tent zipper by herself, police have 'grave concerns'

Western Australian police have "grave concerns" for a missing four-year-old girl's safety after it was revealed she could not have opened her tent's zipper by herself.

Cleo Smith went missing from her family's tent during the early hours of Saturday morning while they were camping in Macleod, about 70 kilometres north of Carnarvon in Western Australia.

Her mother, Ellie Smith, told local media she had woken up at around 6am to see the zipper of the family's tent nearly completely open. Her daughter, who had been sleeping in a separate room of the tent, was nowhere to be seen.

The hunt for Smith has seen police search a number of shacks along the coastline close to the campsite along with infrastructure in the surrounding area. 

Now police say the zipper on the tent was up so high that Smith could not have reached up and opened it by herself.

WA Police Inspector Jon Munday said that it was a key factor in the possibility that she may have been taken by someone, 7News reported.

"The positioning of that zipper for the flap is one of the circumstances which has caused us to have grave concerns for Cleo’s safety," he said.

Inspector Munday said they currently have no suspects but were speaking with registered sex offenders in the area.

This comes as a child exploitation investigator who helped in the search for Madeleine McCann said child victims of abduction typically get killed within three to six hours of being taken.

Dr Graham Hill, founder of Behaviour Analysis at the UK Child Exploitation Online Protection centre (CEOP), told The West children were typically "harmed by people that know them", news.com.au reported.

"And most children that are abducted by someone who doesn’t know them, if they're going to be killed, are dead quite quickly," he told the publication.