Tia Sharp: Shannon Matthews police help in hunt

A police dog is taken to the home of Christine Sharp
Image caption Police dog handlers have searched the area around Tia's grandmother's home

Police from the force that investigated the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews have been consulted in the search for missing schoolgirl Tia Sharp, Scotland Yard has confirmed.

Tia, 12, disappeared on Friday on her way to shop at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, south London.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police are involved to draw on their expertise.

Police warned local searchers not to enter private property after two people were threatened with a weapon.

Eighty officers are involved in the search for Tia, who went missing after a visit to her grandmother's house in New Addington in Croydon.

The disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, prompted a large-scale police search in 2008.

'Find my little girl'

Twenty-four days later she was found alive under a bed in Batley Carr, less than a mile from her home.

Shannon's mother Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan - the uncle of Ms Matthews's partner - were convicted in December 2008 of the child's kidnap, which they committed in a plan to claim £50,000 in reward money.

Image caption Tia Sharp has never gone missing before

Tia was last seen her grandmother's home a week ago.

Her uncle David Sharp told reporters at the spot: "Everyone is trying to do their best by sticking together and keeping everything tight and supporting each other.

"I don't know what has happened to Tia. I don't want anyone to think the worst has happened to Tia."

In a message to her, he said: "Come home. There is no trouble. Walk through that door."

The partner of Tia's mother, 29-year-old David Niles, added: "Just find my little girl, just find my little girl please."

A Met spokesman said it was "routine" to liaise with all forces that have dealt with similar cases.

"This case is like the Shannon Matthews case," he said.

"This is a missing persons case and we are putting all our resources into finding her."

Stuart Hazell - the partner of Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp - was questioned by police as a witness for more than two hours on Wednesday.

The search for Tia has prompted a huge community effort with hundreds of people turning out to search woodland and fields and hand out leaflets.

But police have confirmed that at about 00:15 BST on Thursday two people from a search party were threatened with a weapon as they tried to search a garage in Foxcombe, New Addington.

A Met police spokesman said: "Two people from the search party were confronted by the homeowner.

"It was alleged the homeowner threatened the residents with a weapon.

"This was later reported at a local police station and officers from Croydon CID are now investigating. No arrests were made."

'Fantastic effort'

The police force has reminded people not to enter private property without permission.

Local councillor Carole Bonner said police had asked residents to concentrate on giving out leaflets and not to conduct their own searches.

She said: "People want to be doing something."

The councillor added that local people had "proved their worth" in their "fantastic" efforts so far.

Sue Randall, secretary of Croydon Rugby Club, which had become a gathering point, said she has been advised by police to close the club until further notice.

About 200 people turned out there to search woodland on Tuesday.

Ms Randall said: "They have told us to concentrate on handing out leaflets.

"I suppose they don't want people to go out on their own and contaminate evidence."

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