A missing 10-year-old Birmingham boy had been to a chip shop moments before he disappeared, the last friend to see him said today.
Ben Smythe was last seen around 7pm yesterday after he left a friend's house in Riddfield Road, Bromford, Birmingham, to make the five minute walk home. He had been out playing football with his 12-year-old pal Simon Kesterton. They had then gone to a chip shop before Ben decided to walk the short distance to his home in Bromford Drive.
A police spokeswoman said his family was extremely concerned due to his age and vulnerability. She added: "It may be that he has gone off on his own accord. He was walking back from his friend's house last night and it's a long time for a 10-year-old to be off on their own."
Today his friend Simon said: "We went to the chip shop and we came back... Ben then walked off. That was at about 7pm."
Simon's mother Louise, 42, said: "They (Ben and Simon) were outside playing football. They were just talking about what they were going to do next. He (Ben) said he wasn't going to go home that minute and I said just to make sure you do and that was the last time I had seen him."
Local resident Michael McDonald, 20, said: "Ben is just a normal kid. He is naughty sometimes and sometimes he is good. There's no way he is going to be outside. He is either at a friend's house and doesn't want to come back or something bad has happened."
The search was continuing today with officers conducting house-to-house inquiries. They are also checking local open spaces and friends' houses to see where he may have spent the night. During the search the police helicopter has been used.
Ben is white, 5ft tall and slim with short blond hair. He was wearing a long dark coat with a hood, dark jeans, and a cream and green T-shirt. Anyone who has seen Ben is urged to contact his family or police.
Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them at Stechford on 0845 113 5000.