THE PUBLIC have been warned not to spread unsubstantiated rumours as to the condition of missing teenager Noah Donohoe, as it is proving 'extremely distressing' to his family.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have thanked the public for their assistance in the search for Noah so far, but have urged people not to circulate rumours relating to Noah or to the search, as it is "extremely unhelpful and distressing for his family".
Hundreds of people have gathered each day to search for the missing 14-year-old, but there are fears the sheer volume of volunteers could impede the search, leading the PSNI to ask the public to 'take a step back' for now and allow officers to search alone.
The 14-year-old boy has been missing from his home in south Belfast since Sunday evening and was last seen in the Shore Road area of north Belfast around 6.11pm.
Noah was seen falling off his bike and acting strangely, leading police to believe he may have sustained a head injury in the fall.
“We believe Noah got back on his bicycle, cycling into Northwood Road where he then abandons all his clothing, as he is seen a short time later cycling while naked," Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick has said.
"We believe Noah then dropped his bicycle and left the area on foot."
Members of the PSNI have been checking properties, including sheds and gardens and have asked locals to do the same, as a disoriented Noah may have wandered in there.
However, police cannot ask to check a person's property and the owner must offer the option to police.
On Wednesday, his mother Fiona Donohoe pleaded with people to allow police to search their properties, stating: “Please think," she said. "If it was your child I would let them search my home from top to bottom.”
Police have recovered Noah's helmet, trainers, hoodie and mobile phone but are still searching for a green Khaki North Face jacket, grey sweat shorts and a green backpack containing a Lenova laptop and the book '12 Rules for Life' by Jordan B Peterson.
Locals have been urged to check their own property, including "gardens, sheds and outbuildings for any sign of Noah, who may have wandered in somewhere while disoriented and is now unable to get out.
"If you have a car or a caravan that hasn't been used in a while sitting on your driveway, please check," a police statement pleaded.
"If anyone has had clothing go missing from washing lines, we need you to call us.
"If you are a landlord or own vacant property in the area, please check your property for any sign of Noah."
"Noah's family and police are incredibly concerned for his safety."
Appealing directly to Noah, police said:
"If you are watching this on the TV or listening on the radio, or seeing this appeal online, you are not in any trouble.
"Just call us, let us know that you are safe and we will come to you."
Anyone who may have information which can assist in the search for Noah is asked to contact PSNI by calling 101.
Today, the search for Noah enters its fifth day.