Discovering that a loved one or a friend may be missing is a distressing experience that can cause one to feel many emotions all at once. However, time is of the essence if you believe a person is missing, and there are certain steps everybody should take to help locate the individual.
Steps to take if you believe someone is missing
First and foremost, prior to beginning your search for someone you believe is missing, the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends following four initial steps before anything else:
- Contact the local authorities and provide them with as much information as possible on the person. If they are missing for more than three days, request that they be added to the FBI’s missing person list. Be aware that the authorities are only tasked with locating a person, they cannot hold that person against their will if they are over the age of 21.
- After contacting the authorities, you should reach out to any close friends of the missing person to see if they have additional details or last known whereabouts for the person.
- Third, register the missing person in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which allows a person to upload any information about their loved one.
- Finally, before beginning a major search, call hospitals, homeless shelters, churches, and other public areas that people may turn to when lost.
Once all of the above steps have been followed, use the below six strategies for starting to track down where your friend or loved one may be.
6 Ways to start tracking a person down
You may have heard through television or movies that there is some time cutoff for finding missing persons. While time is certainly of the essence, focus your attention on developing strategies to locate that missing person, rather than thinking about a clock ticking down. Below are six useful strategies for narrowing your search:
- Conduct a people search
In some cases, long-missing individuals may have begun a life somewhere new. Consider submitting for a free people search to be performed. If that missing person retained any of their old information, they may have listed their current details on a public platform, which a people search could locate.
- Take advantage of social media
For the many negatives that social media brings, there are many positives. Social media can help you learn where a missing person was just prior to the last time they were heard from. Look on Facebook to see if the person checked in anywhere or consider browsing their Instagram photos to see if they simply forgot to tell you they’re on a trip.
- Put flyers around town asking for help
When in doubt, turning to your community can be an excellent way to get help with the search. Post flyers around town that have a photo of the missing individual and contact information where you can be reached. You never know if a person spotted the missing individual at some point, and any clues can help the person to be found.
- See if you can access their cellular device
If possible, access the individual’s cellular device if you know the passcode and they left it behind. This may indicate where they were recently or if they were talking to anybody who you were unaware of. Additionally, if they have certain technology on their person, their phone may be able to track down their current location.
- Check with missing persons databases
In some cases, missing persons are found and have no memory of who they are. When this occurs and they don’t have identification on them, it can be difficult to identify who they are. They may be listed in a missing persons database, but you might be able to find them by inputting the parameters of who you’re searching for.
- Take out a free ad
Finally, consider taking out an ad in the newspaper or anywhere else. For missing persons, many platforms will allow you to post your ad for free so that you can get the news out about the missing individual.
Locate an individual today
Having a friend or family member go missing is an extremely troubling situation. Be sure to contact the local authorities as soon as possible to report the event and give as many details as possible. While the authorities handle the nuances of the missing persons investigation, don’t be afraid to start a personal search at the same time using any available information. With luck, your missing friend or family member will be found in a short amount of time.
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