Finding a lost or missing person is no easy task. When you believe a person in your life has disappeared, act quickly to set a search in motion. It’s normal to panic, but the more time you waste, the harder it may be to find them. Here are steps to take the moment you suspect they’re not coming home.
Finding Lost or Missing People
Check their social media accounts.
Have they updated their social media recently? This is an important way to gain information about the days leading up to the person’s disappearance. Check his or her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other accounts. Where were they last? Did they check in anywhere? Are there any suspicious posts or tweets or stories? Many people today post personal updates online, so going through the most recent ones may contain clues. It will also help if you go through accounts of the person’s friends as well.
Contact their family and friends.
Call the people in the missing person’s life and ask when they last saw him or her. Determine if they know anything about the person’s whereabouts. Besides friends, family members, neighbors, and classmates, get in touch with anyone who had regular contact with the missing person. This may include teachers, doctors, dentists, bus drivers, coworkers, and neighbors. You may have to write down the information you’ve gathered from these people. Also encourage them to contact you if they soon find more information that may help you out.
Call hospitals and jails.
Here’s a very plausible explanation for why someone disappeared: they either—god forbid—got involved in an accident or got in trouble with the law! Call all the facilities in your area to rule out these possibilities. If you’re really worried, visit these places in person and bring a photograph with you.
Visit your local police department.
It’s a common misconception that you have to wait 24 hours to contact the police about a missing person, especially if they’re young or in a vulnerable state of mind. Visit your local police department as soon as possible, and be sure to prepare the following information beforehand:
- Photos of the missing person
- Nicknames or aliases used by the person
- Hair color
- Eye color
- Identifying characteristics such as scars and tattoos
- Clothing and shoes the person was last seen wearing
- Medications the person was taking
- Allergies, handicaps, and other medical conditions
- Places the person frequents
- Description of the person’s personal vehicle, if applicable
- Situation surrounding the person’s disappearance
Make sure you obtain a case number for your missing person’s report. Write down the name of the person in charge of your case. Contact this person when you wish to follow up.
Post about the situation and ask the online community if anyone has seen the missing person. Be sure to include the same information you gave the police department. Also, the post’s privacy settings have to be public, commentable, and shareable so it spreads well. The more people who become aware that you’re looking for a missing person, the better the chances of finding them.
Put up posters.
More often than not, missing people who see posters of them decide to return home. Print out hard copies of posters and begin distributing them around your neighborhood. Put them on lampposts and ask community centers—like libraries, churches, post offices, even the local bar—if you can display them on their property. Also put up the posters near the missing person’s home and around the places where they mostly spent time in. You can go the extra mile by asking permission to put up posters in transportation depots such as airlines, bus routes, taxi services, and train rails or subway systems. These posters can alert neighbors and passersby whom you haven’t gotten in touch with yet and who might have information about the missing person’s whereabouts.
Contact organizations or use their databases.
You can use organizations with databases designed to help find missing persons, many of which are geared toward specific characteristics. Consider registering with additional databases to gain access to their free services and resources to help you find the missing person. Here are just a few organizations that are dedicated to helping families and friends looking for a missing person:
- National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Find the Missing
- Polly Klaas Foundation
- Black and Missing
Losing someone important is scary. We recommend you equip loved ones with covert GPS trackers to receive updates on their location every minute.