POLICE searching for a "high risk" 21-year-old woman who vanished a week ago have launched a criminal investigation.
Chloe Mitchell, from Ballymena, Co Antrim, was last seen on CCTV in the town centre in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Police began investigating as worried locals launched searches in the Harryville area, centred around James Street where she was last seen.
On Thursday a man, aged 26, was arrested 40 miles away in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
As the search was stepped up with dozens helping out, Chloe’s mum Georgina Mitchell said she was anxious ahead of every update from police in case it "might not be good news".
She spoke as police sealed off a property at a residential block.
As a forensics team began a detailed search behind the cordon, volunteers continued a search along the banks of nearby River Braid.
In an update today, Superintendent Gillian Kearney said police had launched a criminal investigation.
She said: "Police are continuing to search for 21-year-old Chloe Mitchell, who we are treating as a high-risk missing person.
"Firstly, I am appealing directly to make contact with the police, family or friends so we know you are safe and well. I am also asking the public to contact us if they have seen Chloe."
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Ms Kearney added: "We are becoming increasingly concerned about Chloe's safety.
"It is out of character for her to not be in contact with her family. They are being supported by specialist officers during this worrying time.
"We have launched a criminal investigation into her disappearance and we are examining a number of scenes."
She continued: "I hope Chloe is safe and well and that is why today we are appealing for information from anybody who may have seen her or may know where she is."
Earlier Georgina Mitchell had urged people to “do what they can to help find" Chloe.
She told the Irish Sun that it was "very out of character" for her daughter to disappear for so long.
She said: "We have just had no information at all since she went missing so we’re just waiting."
She said she last saw her daughter on Friday June 2 at 6.45pm.
Ms Mitchell said: "We know that she went to James Street in Ballymena and that’s all we know."
She urged anyone with any information to do what they can to help, saying: "That’s all we are asking, if you know anything at all please come forward."
When last seen, Chloe was wearing a green and black North Face style jacket, a white T-shirt, leggings and Nike trainers.
The local Harryville Residents Association have helped search the area, handing out flyers in hope someone might have information.
Chloe's brother Philip made an emotive appeal on social media saying: "Someone has to know something", adding, "please come home Chloe."
The Community Rescue Service had been involved in the frantic searches bringing specialist equipment to the riverbank.
Sean McCarry said: "Our teams are working along the Braid River.
"Because it has been so dry through the past few weeks there isn't a big flow in the river.
"We are not searching on the basis that we think Chloe might have got into difficulties in the river, we are searching on the basis of it is within the vicinity of the search area.
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"We concentrate on all waterways and all areas as we carry out the search.
"We have quite a number of our team out today. We bring additional resources as we need them and the tasks come through to us from the police."
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