Police have officially suspended the search for missing backpacker Theo Hayez.
Police have officially suspended the search for missing backpacker Theo Hayez.

Police call off search for missing Belgian backpacker

Police have suspended the search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez and "do not have any more answers" for the teenager's family at this stage.

The officer in charge of Byron Bay Police Station, Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe, issued a statement on Saturday morning - more than three weeks since 18-year-old Theo vanished on May 31.

Theo's father Laurent Hayez took to Facebook on Friday to thank the Byron Bay community and said their "warmness and kindness is like a balm on our bleeding heart".

"You give us force and faith," he said.

"We love u from the earth to the moon (what Theo told me one evening in his bed at age of five at the hugs [sic] moments before sleeping)."

Theo’s father Laurent Hayez. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese
Theo’s father Laurent Hayez. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

Det Insp Kehoe said on Facebook NSW Police officers - baffled by the perplexing case - would not be involved in any "large scale physical land searches" this weekend.

But detectives were continuing to pore over information provided to officers and search co-ordinators were reviewing all search patterns.

"Sadly our search efforts involving SES, Brunswick VRA, police dogs, drones, rappellers, specialist police searchers, divers and of course our tireless community volunteers do not have any more answers for Theo's family," he said.

Det Insp Kehoe said police were speaking with Theo's family and updating them on the investigation.

SES volunteers search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez around Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese
SES volunteers search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez around Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

"In my time spent with Laurent, Lisa and JP (Theo's father, cousin and godfather) I am strengthened to continue our efforts to locate Theo," he said.

Det Insp Kehoe also extended his gratitude to everyone involved in the massive search to find Theo, including members of the Byron Bay community.

"I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank all of those involved in the continued search for Theo Hayez," he said.

A search helicopter hovers over bushland near Watergos beach during a search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese
A search helicopter hovers over bushland near Watergos beach during a search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

"The kindness, compassion and selflessness of everyone involved demonstrates what a wonderful place this truly is.

Volunteers who wished to continue the search over the weekend were offered some safety tips.

"My advice to volunteers who are continuing to search, please record where you are searching, don't search alone, keep hydrated and wear protective clothing," Det Insp Kehoe said.

"As I have indicated previously, areas around the coast, beaches and bush that adjoins the beaches are suitable areas to search. But most of all please stay safe."

Det Insp Kehoe did not touch on reports by Belgian journalist Cathérine Moerkerke about a mysterious campsite of interest being found in bushland around Byron.

Theo was last seen on CCTV footage outside Cheeky Monkey's on Jonson St about 11pm on May 31.

Enjoying a night out in Byron, Theo was asked to leave the venue by security due to intoxication.

Theo never returned to his accommodation at Wake Up! backpackers hostel at Belongil, about 2.3 kilometres from Cheeky Monkey's.

It's understood Theo was due to check out of his room at the hostel on June 3, but staff did not raise the alarm until three days later.

Police said a 'ping' was recorded from Theo's mobile phone on June 1 near Cape Byron Lighthouse, but searches of the area have so far been fruitless.

Laurent Hayez pleaded tearfully with the public for assistance during a press conference at Tweed Heads Police Station on Monday.

Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, who went missing from Byron Bay on May 31.
Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, who went missing from Byron Bay on May 31.


Both he and Theo's mother Vinciane Delforge have described Theo's disappearance as out of character.

Theo had been holidaying in Australia since November with his cousin, who has been involved in the search.

He's described as being of caucasian appearance, about 180cm to 190cm tall, with a thin build and blonde hair.

He was last seen dressed in a black hooded jumper, beige pants and black shoes.

Det Insp Kehoe asked anyone with information, "big or small", which may help in the search for Theo to phone Byron Bay Police Station on (02) 6685 9499 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



Police investigate arson at local Bundy business

premium_icon Police investigate arson at local Bundy business

Police investigating fire at Bundaberg business

$2M piece of equipment could save miner's lives

premium_icon $2M piece of equipment could save miner's lives

Global mining giant funds critical equipment for rescue service

Fired-up dad fined $1000 for fighting man who threatened son

premium_icon Fired-up dad fined $1000 for fighting man who threatened son

Sayers pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm