How to find a missing person
Are you trying to hunt down an immediate family member who has recently gone missing, or a relative who everyone suspects has disappeared? Or perhaps you’re searching for an old friend who you haven’t heard from in years and would like to know their whereabouts? Whatever the situation is, you’re probably extremely stressed out and don’t know what steps to take to locate this person.
It is definitely important to act quickly and begin a search for the person you and/or other individuals are looking for. In this article, we aim to provide you with the right resources and all you need to know to get started looking for, and hopefully locate your missing person.
What is considered a missing person?
This is an individual who has not been seen or heard of in a short or long period of time. Sources say that over 600,000 people go missing each year in the United States, ranging from children to older individuals. However, roughly 80% of people that go missing are young children. Adults are more likely to be listed as long-term missing persons, however children are 6 times more likely to be reported missing than any other person.
According to law enforcement, a person isn’t considered missing until 24 hours of their disappearance. However, the first 48 hours of a person’s disappearance is crucial for law enforcement, because it’s the best time to follow up on any leads, before any solid evidence begins to fade away. Unfortunately, law enforcement can only do so much, so it’s up to you to hire a private investigator.
A missing person can also be someone who isn’t necessarily physically lost, but is just unable to be located by someone else. A good example of this is a witness in a criminal investigation or a person whose family member passed away and is being searched by an attorney to settle the deceased persons will.
Why do people go missing?
Reasons why people go missing varies, depending on the individual’s situation. A person may go missing through an intentional disappearance, or else due to an abduction, mental illness, an accident, dead in a location where they cannot be found (such as a lake), or any other reason there may be.
Unfortunately, it is possible for people to disappear under suspicious circumstances and people go missing all over the world. So, keep in mind that this can happen to anyone and for many different reasons.
Where to start if someone you know is missing
If you are looking for a lost relative, then there are many avenues to use to locate this person. The place to start varies from person to person, as everyone has different circumstances or lifestyle. However, below is a list of a few places to start that may be helpful to you:
1. Contact immediate family and friends
Most missing person cases are resolved immediately, because they are found right away. So, try looking in obvious places. The most obvious would be immediate family, as they interact with this person all the time and may know where they can be found.
Ensure that you conduct a thorough interview with each person for any relevant information that may help you locate your missing person. Also, have them help you with the search and provide you any other information if something comes up. This will help you conduct your search faster and more efficiently. You can’t do this search on your own.
2. Call the police
There is no mandatory amount of time to make an actual report , so make a missing person report as soon as possible. The faster you notify the authorities, the faster they will begin to conduct their search.
Ensure you give them as much information as possible upfront, so that they can understand the situation and make necessary action steps to begin their search. Keep in mind that the police department is very busy handling other cases and situations in the community, so it is your job to follow up with them and ensure they are doing their job.
3. Check social media accounts
When investigating your missing person’s social media accounts, pay attention to all clues. A good example would be, check to see the last time they posted anything and if it was recent – check to see where they could be located? You can also try contacting your missing person to see if you get a response or anyone who recently interacted with them in the comments section, to see if they know their whereabouts.
If you’re not sure what their social media profiles are, you can use a service such as TruthFinder to find known social media accounts.
4. Check locations they go to
Driving around your local area is always a good place to start, however you don’t want to drive aimlessly. Try searching the locations you know this person would be found and do a search. For example, if your child loves going to the local park and he/she goes frequently, that might be one of the first places you want to check.
Its always better to go in groups, so that you don’t waste your time driving by yourself, that way you have multiple people checking different areas at the same time and can do your search faster. Remember, the first 48 hours is the most important time to locate this missing person, so you want to ensure you make the best of your time.
5. Track their phone
Each mobile carrier and phone has its own mobile tracking service, which can help you track a family members phone. You could set up family location services with a monthly subscription through most wireless carrier providers. There may be a possibility that they already have a free version and provided tracking access to a family member or friend.
Find out if this person has a phone tracking service set up and if someone has access to track the missing persons phone. This will help you track your child or loved ones with ease, if they ever go lost (hoping they never do) in the future.
6. Check the local jail, hospital or homeless shelter
If you are searching for someone who has mental illness, has a criminal background or is in poverty, then these locations may be places you want to check.
- Checking online for local jails may be a good place to start. This will help you find out if your missing person is in one of the local jails in your area. Try calling these jails as well incase this person was recently put into custody.
- If your missing person might be mentally ill or has known health issues, the hospital may be a good place to check. Its recommended to visit the local hospital instead of calling, because they may busy or able to legally provide you the status of a person you are searching for in the hospital. Informing them of the situation in person may help in working something out with the nurses.
- If you believe this missing person may be homeless, then drive around the areas where most homeless people may be staying and ask if they know your missing person. Bring a picture to see if they recognize this person.
7. Hire a private investigator in your area
If the person has been missing for a longer period of time, different alternative must be utilized to expedite your search. Private Investigators are professionals, constantly working on cases such as this, so finding your missing may be an easy task for the detective. They are also known as people locators or skip trace investigators.
They use a number of vehicles to search areas that an average person or even the police department does not have access to. Here are a few tactics a private investigator uses to do their research in finding a missing person, that you or law enforcement are not able to use:
- They may work with law enforcement officials in an active missing person case.
- A private investigator often has a network of people they work with to help them in the search, including other investigators and informants.
- The police may consider an old case (cold case) beyond their statute of limitations, but if you have been missing someone for a long time, a PI will get the work done and do the investigation.
- They will pursue leads that are credible and not considered credible to the police and question them to be an aid in finding the missing person.
- Through surveillance and videotaping a PI can observe places where a missing person most likely can be found or can observe and track a suspect in a missing persons case.
- An individual may have access to the internet to search public records, but a PI has access to databases and contacts that the average person wouldn’t have access to.
- They are able to travel across boundaries in search of a missing person and have other private investigators helping them in different areas, whereas the police department is not able to travel beyond town or state borders.
- Doing background checks on their suspect by running an SSN skip trace may be the best way for a Private investigator to locate a missing person who may be trying to hide or cannot be found.
As mentioned above, law enforcement may not have enough resources, time or even interest in helping with your missing persons case, so you may want to reach out to a private investigator who will give priority to your case and get the job done. An immediate answer is needed and who is better to seek for help then someone who is dedicated in handling cases such as these cases. You may be able to do some research and, in your passion, may make an attempt to find this person, but doing this search without a private detective may not be in your best interest and all your searching alone may be to no avail.