Plead

Thea Ivens, wife of missing Burbank FBI agent Stephen Ivens, left, and his mother Catherine Ivens, right, plead for the public's help in finding Stephen Ivens during a family press conference in front of the Burbank Police Dept. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / May 23, 2012)

Authorities have stopped actively combing local mountains and hillsides for an FBI agent who went missing from his Burbank home nearly two weeks ago, instead basing their search on tips from the public, a police official said Wednesday.

The decision came after a search carried out Saturday by teams from the Ventura and Los Angeles County sheriff’s departments turned up empty, Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.

In the days after the May 11 disappearance of 35-year-old FBI agent Stephen Ivens from his Burbank home in the 1700 block of Scott Road, authorities from several agencies mounted a massive search — initially focused on the nearby Verdugo Mountains — using helicopters, dogs and foot patrols.

It took on added urgency because officials said he likely had his department-issued gun and could be a danger to himself, although they declined to say why.

But with no progress, Ryburn said the effort had turned into a search driven by leads from the public — of which there have been few.

Standing outside the Burbank Police Department on Wednesday during a news conference, Ivens’ family again appealed to the public for help while asking the agent — a father of a 1-year-old son — to send some sign that he was alive.

“Babe, wherever you are, just please reach out and let us know you are OK,” his wife, Thea, said as she stood flanked by several family members.

She described Ivens — an agent specializing in national security who has been working at the FBI for more than three years — as kind, generous, quiet and loving, but said he hadn’t been himself since February.

Thea Ivens declined to reveal anything she said might be part of the investigation, saying only that the source of strife was not related to work or his home life.

Married since 2004, she added that her husband had been receiving help for whatever was troubling him.

The night before he disappeared, he seemed “really happy” when they fell asleep together, Thea Ivens said. When she woke up the next morning, Stephen Ivens was gone.

He was described as white, 6 feet tall and 160 pounds, with receding brown hair and prescription glasses.

Authorities have urged the public to not approach the agent, but to instead notify police.

Thea Ivens on Wednesday also said her husband did not have his cellphone.

“Please just come home,” said his mother, Cathy.

Anyone with information about Stephen Ivens or his whereabouts may call police at (818) 238-3000, or the FBI at (310) 477-6565.

jason.wells@latimes.com

veronica.rocha@latimes.com