Someone I Know is Missing
What to do if someone is missing
If the missing person is a child, studies show the first 48 hours are the most critical in terms of finding and returning the child home safely.
- Immediately report the person as missing to your local law enforcement agency. There is NO waiting period.
- Limit access to the home where the person resides, their vehicle, and electronic devices. Do not touch or remove/delete anything until possible evidence can be collected by law enforcement.
Ask Law Enforcement:
- To enter the missing person into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
- If the situation fits the national America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert criteria
- If the individual is over 65 years of age, ask for a Silver Alert to be broadcast.
- Ask for the Case Number and the name and contact information of the investigator in charge of the case
- Ask law enforcement to stay in touch. If they don't call you, you can call them
**NOTE: It is NOT illegal for an adult to voluntarily go missing. The police have certain rules and regulations to protect privacy in case this is the situation. Don't get frustrated by the police sticking to their guidelines; remember they are in place for a reason.
Provide the following information to Law Enforcement:
- A detailed description:
- The clothing worn by the missing person at the time they went missing
- Include any identifying marks such as birth marks, scars, tattoos, or mannerisms
- Any photos documenting these identifying marks you may have
- Any medications and the conditions for which they are taking them
- If they left voluntarily, did they take their medications with them
- If the missing person has any special needs
- The most recent photos of the missing person including color photos as well as black and white.
Scan them electronically and be prepared to share with:
- Law Enforcement
- The media
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
- Other non-profit organizations
- A List of all friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might have information or clues about the missing
persons whereabouts. When possible, include:
- Telephone numbers
- Who has moved in or out of the neighborhood within the last year
- Whose interest in the family has changed in the last few months
- Anyone who has recently appeared overly interested in the missing person
- A list of the missing person's interests, favorite sites and games, internet friends from social networking sites and places where they frequently hangout
As the investigation progresses, law enforcement may need your assistance with obtaining additional information such as:
- Medical and dental records
- Bank records (when applicable)
- Social media account information
- Access to any electronic devices
- Family reference DNA samples - a non-invasive swab taken from the inside of the cheek of a potential donor. The DNA is entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) DNA databank.
Take care of yourself and your family. The missing person needs you to be strong.
- When the missing person is a child, call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678) to ask for help and resources
- Designate someone to answer your telephone
- Place a notepad by the telephone where names, telephone numbers, dates and times of calls, and other information can be recorded
- Make sure the ringer is on and the telephone is fully charged
- Carry a notepad with you at all times to jot down your thoughts or questions
- Force yourself to rest, eat nourishing food, and don't be afraid to ask others to take care of your physical and emotional needs as well as those of your family
- Make a list of things that volunteers can do for you and your family
What NOT to do if someone you know is missing
- Do not wait, especially if the missing person is vulnerable; notify police as soon as you think something is wrong
- Do not delay in searching; time can be of the essence.
- Do not keep their disappearance a secret. The more people you tell, the more people you have looking on your behalf and the speedier the results might be.
- To avoid being the victim of a hoax, do not put your own telephone number or address on missing posters or advertisements. Instead use a police department contact number. People may prey upon you and be cruel. Do not get caught up in any hoaxes and contact law enforcement if you believe you have been the victim of one.
- Do not give up, keep appealing and searching. Remember that people want to help. Try and keep your loved one's name and photo in the public eye. Your missing person is important.