Australia

Local volunteers continue to search for Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez

Police are still struggling to determine what happened to Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez. Source: AAP

A team of local volunteers plans to continue searching for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez more than three weeks after he was last seen in Byron Bay.

The physical search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has been suspended, but volunteers in Byron Bay plan to continue scouring the area.

The physical search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez who disappeared more than three weeks ago in Byron Bay has been suspended but police inquiries are continuing.

It comes as his father thanked the local community for their support.

Mr Hayez, 18, was last seen leaving the holiday town's Cheeky Monkey's bar about 11pm on May 31.

Police, State Emergency Service volunteers and members of the public were joined on Friday by police divers, who continued the search in the Tallow Beach area.

The last 'ping' from Mr Hayez's phone was recorded on June 1 in the area around the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

While the physical search for Mr Hayez has been suspended for Saturday and Sunday, detectives will continue to go through information provided to police, a NSW Police spokesman said on Saturday morning.

Police will reassess whether the physical search will resume on Monday.

Mr Hayez's father Laurent Hayez reached out to thank Byron Bay locals for their support.

"Your warmness and kindness is like a balm on our bleedin' heart," Mr Hayez posted to a group for the Byron Bay community on Friday night.

"You give us force and faith. We love u from the earth to the moon (What Theo told me one evening in his bed at age of five) ... "

SES volunteers search for missing Belgian backpacker Laurent Hayez around Watergos beach, Byron Bay.
SES volunteers search for the missing Belgian backpacker
AAP

Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe also took to the Facebook group to thank the Byron Bay community.

"The kindness, compassion and selflessness of everyone involved demonstrates what a wonderful place this truly is," Mr Kehoe said in a statement posted on Saturday. 

"Sadly our search efforts...do not have any more answers for Theo's family."

However, through time spent with Theo's family, Mr Kehoe said he is "strengthened to continue our efforts" to locate the teenager.

Laurent Hayez on Monday made an emotional plea for help, begging encrypted chat service WhatsApp to grant police access to his son's final known conversations.

The company provided what information they could but were unable to access the content of the messages, AAP understands.

Belgian police are also working in Europe to speak with people Theo may have contacted in his final known hours.

More than $70,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page for the Hayez family, part of which was used to help Mr Hayez fly to Australia.

Laurent Hayez has pleaded to the public to help find his son Theo who went missing in Byron Bay.
Laurent Hayez pleading to the public to help find his son Theo who went missing in Byron Bay.
AAP

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