The family of missing teenager Liam Smith say they are “realistic” about the challenges of finding him, three months after he disappeared.
The 16-year-old was last seen boarding a 202 Stagecoach service for Deeside in Aberdeen’s Union Square on Saturday, November 17.
Police believe he got off the bus at Crathes and extensive searches have been concentrated in the area and around Banchory.
The operation will be scaled back over the next few days.
In a statement released through police, Liam’s family say he “wasn’t feeling himself” at the time he went missing.
They added: “It is now three months since Liam was last seen and it has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult time for us.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support from members of the public and the communities of the North-east.
“We are extremely grateful to the police and those who have supported their inquiries including the mountain rescue teams of Braemar and Aberdeen. We know that the information available to them has been fully investigated and that extensive searches have been carried out.”
The family went on: “While we continue to hope that Liam will be found we are being realistic about the challenges around finding him.
“We believe that Liam wasn’t feeling himself at the time he went missing and we would encourage any teenager who is feeling overwhelmed to speak to someone about their feelings.”
Chief Inspector Martin Mackay said: “The response from the public to our appeals has been overwhelming and the communities of Crathes and Banchory have been particularly supportive. We would like to thank all those who have continued to support us.
“At this stage we continue to search but that will be scaled back over the next few days as we conclude the activity at Crathes. “The investigation will remain open and any new information will be thoroughly reviewed and assessed.”