Missing persons cases are serious matters. If you're missing a friend or family member, you're not powerless. There are clear actions that you can take to increase the chances of your loved one being found quickly and safely, including alerting the authorities, engaging the community, and deploying trained investigators.To locate someone who has disappeared, you need to begin your search as soon as possible. By beginning to look for the missing individual quickly, it limits the distance they can go, and the likelihood that clues will be overlooked or become irrelevant. If you’re attempting to find a missing person, here are a few crucial steps you’ll need to take.
1. Alert the Authorities
To get help with your investigation, you’ll want to alert the authorities. Police officers can help spread the message that someone has gone missing. As soon as you recognize that someone has gone missing, you will want to file a report with your local police station.
Please keep in mind that the authorities can only do so much, especially if the missing individual is an adult. Because anyone over the age of eighteen is free to go as they please, police may not be able to do much if there is suspicion the individual has just run away. However, reporting the missing person is still to your benefit.
2. Contact Friends and Family
If there is a chance that the missing individual could be with a friend or family member, take the necessary steps to reach out. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, or even carelessness can cause individuals to “disappear” only to be found with a friend or other family member a few hours later.
Cover all your bases to ensure that the individual truly is missing. If friends and family have not seen the individual and cannot offer up any insight to where he or she may be, you will want to move on to the next step.
3. Hang Signs
Get the community involved in the search by creating signs indicating that someone has gone missing. You will want to include helpful information on these signs, including a photo of the individual, a description of their height and weight, and what clothes they were last seen wearing.
Your signs will also need to include your contact information or contact information for the individual they should get in touch with if they have information. These signs should be hung all around your community and in neighboring cities and towns.
4. Contact NamUs
NamUs, which stands for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System is operated by the US Department of Justice and is a great resource for individuals looking for a missing person. Through the NamUs database, you can create a missing persons file on your individual.
With this information online, organizations and agencies from all over the country can see that the individual has gone missing. This helps to spread awareness on the person and strengthen the hunt.
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5. Check Jails and Hospitals
Even if the missing person is not the kind of individual to get into trouble, contacting the jails to see if they happen to be there. Hospitals are another possibility. If they are incarcerated or injured, being in jail or a hospital could explain why you have been unable to reach them.
To check hospitals, you simply need to call the front desk and ask if there is a patient by the name of the missing person. You may want to call other hospitals in neighboring areas as well. You may need the assistance of your local police station to discover if the individual is in jail, but some law enforcement websites allow you to look up the individual online.
6. Check Social Media
The individual’s social media pages can give some kind of clue to where the individual has gone or who they may be with. Look to see when the last time they updated a post was or if they were getting any weird interactions with strangers or even friends. Reach out to friends or individuals that they may have corresponded online with before their disappearance.
If you come up with any clues or potential clues, you’ll want to share them with individuals working on the case as soon as possible. The faster they get information that may be time sensitive, the better they can act on it.
7. Track Their Phone
If you have access to their location on their phone, you may be able to track and see where it is. With apps such as Find My Friends, you can see the location of anyone who chooses to use that app with you. You may also be able to track the location of a phone if they are on the same family plan as you.
Keep in mind that tracking a phone may not be reliable if the phone dies, breaks, or has been left behind. However, it can lead you right to the individual if tracking works.
Attempting to locate an individual after they have gone missing can be one of the most stressful things anyone will face. With the right steps and the right help, you can locate your loved one and bring them back home to you.
8. Hire a Private Investigator
There is only so much you can do in a pursuit and only so much that the authorities can help you with. But if you want additional assistance locating the missing individual, a professional private investigator can conduct an investigation to help you track down the missing person.
Because a private investigator will have access to databases, software, programs, and other systems that you probably do not, locating the missing person can be an easier task. They can communicate with other investigators in neighboring areas to see if the person has appeared in another town and they can conduct a more thorough search for information online. Because you are paying them for their services and time, they can give locating this person their full attention.
About Danny Boice:
Danny Boice is the co-founder and CEO of Trustify, the first technology platform linking people to experienced investigators on-demand. Proud father of 5 (plus a dog!) he started Trustify with his wife Jen in 2015 after personally dealing with the difficulties of finding a good investigator in a hurry. Danny’s journey as an entrepreneur and journalist includes founding Speek, a conference call service, as well as serving as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and being featured in the Washington Post, Fast Company, and The Wall Street Journal (to name a few). Danny and Jen believe in the positive power of private investigators and are actively engaged in partnerships with a variety of nonprofits including Becky’s Fund, an organization devoted to helping the victims of domestic violence.