Police investigate message scrawled on a tree near where William Tyrrell went missing.

A chilling message painted onto a tree about missing toddler William Tyrrell, located just kilometres from where the then three-year-old disappeared in September 2014, has sparked a police investigation.

Builder Bob Carnes stumbled across the message, scrawled in a bright red spray paint in the Middle Brother state forest on NSW’s mid-north coast.

It reads: “Jesus saves William Tyrell [sic]”.

Next to the tree trunk was a can containing a compass, coin, torch and post-it notes, Mr Carnes wrote yesterday on his Facebook page, to which he also uploaded photos of the tree and other objects.

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The message scrawled on a tree. Image via Facebook/Bob Carnes.

He said he texted the images to NSW police.

The find has been the cause of much speculation but police believe it is more likely a shrine or the remnants of a “geocaching” game rather than a clue left by the young boy’s abductors, News Limited reports.

Geocaching is a scavenger hunt which uses GPS technology along with other navigational techniques to find hidden containers.

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William Tyrrell has been missing for 18 months. Image via Facebook/William Tyrrell #givehimback.

A NSW police statement read: “About 6:30pm yesterday [Sunday 7 February 2016], a member of the public contacted police after a reference to William Tyrrell was found painted on a tree in a state forest near Stewart’s River, about 10km south of Kendall.”

Police attended, secured the area and seized the items.

“Following inquiries, police have determined the items and painting were a result of ‘geocaching’, an outdoor activity in which participants use GPS coordinates to hide and seek items,” the statement said.

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The container contained a torch, compass and various other items. Image via Facebook/Bob Carnes.

“Given the circumstances of William’s disappearance, police are disappointed that it has been included in a recreational game.

“Police maintain their appeal for anyone with information concerning William’s disappearance to contact Crime Stoppers.”

Tyrrell, a big Spiderman fan, disappeared from his grandmother’s home in Kendall in September 2014.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to

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