Family and friends of a missing man have urged police to solve the "mystery" disappearance of the vulnerable 73-year-old last seen a month ago.

Norfolk police have announced their search for David Ryan had been "paused" as there were "no signs of life".

Mr Ryan lived at the Swanton Care facility in Crome Road and is a well-known character in the NR3 area but has not been seen since he was spotted near his home on December 28.

Neighbours in the Silver Road area say they were used to seeing him walking the same route around the block "four or five times" a day.

However, staff and others living in the Swanton Care supported living flat block remain upset about the police decision to end their search.

Norwich Evening News: Swanton Community Support on Crome RoadSwanton Community Support on Crome Road (Image: Bruno Brown)

A spokesman for the facility said: "We have not given up hope that David will be found alive and well and our thoughts very much remain with his family at this time.

"We would like to thank everyone involved in the extensive search to date and we would appeal to the police to reconsider their decision to pause the active search."

A source at the care home said Mr Ryan had "behaviour patterns which he followed every day", such as his daily walks around the block.

Mags Mayes, who lives in Crome Road, said Mr Ryan "was like a part of the furniture" in the community.

She said: "I would see David walking about, going about his business on his little loop around the block, at least three or four times a day it felt like.

"He was always just wandering about going about his stuff, everyone knew who he was, he's a very distinctive-looking man, dressed in a hat and trench coat, with long messy hair.

Norwich Evening News: David Ryan has been missing since December 28David Ryan has been missing since December 28 (Image: Norfolk Police)

"It is just a mystery. We are all worried for him and can't quite understand how he can be so difficult to find, he's an elderly man for goodness sake."

​Glenn Ryan, 53, is David's nephew and lives in the city's Marlpit estate.

READ MORE: 'Frightening' extent of early-hours fire revealed by neighbour

He said he had not seen or heard from his uncle since 1971 when the now-missing man was caring for his nephew during a difficult period for the family.

Norwich Evening News: The Swanton Care supported living flats where David Ryan livesThe Swanton Care supported living flats where David Ryan lives (Image: Google Maps)

"I was a toddler when I last saw him, he was looking after my sister and me after our parents had split up. We always looked up to him then," said Mr Ryan.

"But he had it rough, his dad fought for six years in the Second World War, and when he returned was not the same man and his mother left him on Christmas Eve.

READ MORE: Strong winds from Storm Jocelyn leave HUGE hole in Norwich road

"His parents breaking up really messed him up, and though he was there for a period when my parents split up later on, he soon took off and pursued his own adventure.

"I lost contact with him and all these years had passed when suddenly I saw he was missing in Norwich and joined in to search because he is my blood and it worries me he's not safe."

Norwich Evening News: David Ryan walking near to his home on December 28David Ryan walking near to his home on December 28 (Image: Norfolk Police)

The 53-year-old questioned why it is proving so difficult to find his uncle as he doesn't have a mobile phone, or money, and "isn't very mobile".

He said: "I am just confused as to how he is getting about, if that is the case, because he doesn’t have a phone or any money so it just doesn’t make sense. 

“I want answers as to how he’s been able to escape and go missing, it’s a crazy mystery, but I bet it's blatantly simple and on our doorstep. 

"It's very upsetting and I fear the worst."

When asked for further comment on why the search had been "paused", Norfolk police responded with their statement issued on Wednesday.

Inspector Terri Cooper-Barnes said: "There continues to be no signs of life.

"We are continuing enquiries to locate David via intelligence-led enquiries.

Norwich Evening News: Inspector Terri Cooper-Barnes of Norfolk PoliceInspector Terri Cooper-Barnes of Norfolk Police (Image: Newsquest)

"But we have paused searches until further information leads to new search parameters.”

READ MORE: 'No signs of life' as police halt search for missing 73-year-old

Mr Ryan is described as white, 5ft 3in tall and believed to be wearing a black bobble hat, a long green or dark-coloured wax jacket, dark trousers and work-style boots.

He is known to walk around the city centre, Magdalen Street, Anglia Square, Silver Road and Chapelfield Gardens.

Anyone with information can call police on 101.