How to Find a Missing Person – 7 Essential Steps

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You saw them the other day, and all of a sudden, you’ve lost all contact with them. This, not knowing where your friend or a family member has gone, is justifiably most people’s biggest nightmare. Feelings of distress, panic, and concern are all expected in this dire situation. However, it is important to try to keep a level head and do everything in your power to bring that person back into your life. The actions you take after realizing someone has gone off the radar may be crucial in ensuring their safety. Here are some things you can do to try to locate your missing loved one.

Get in Touch with the Police

Most people will immediately call the cops upon realizing someone has gone missing. There is no need to wait a full day before getting in touch with the authorities, especially if the person you are looking for is a minor or suffering from some sort of physical/mental illness. Make sure to provide the police with pictures of your loved one and a thorough description of their appearance, as that may not be conveyed through images alone. Tell them all about when you last saw this person and keep them updated whenever you obtain new information or clues that could help them find your loved one. Inevitably, the police may not work on your case as much as you would like them to since they have hundreds of cases to go through every day. Do not idly wait for the police to get back to you, rather, keep investigating on your own (as long as you do not get yourself in potentially dangerous situations).

Call or Visit Hospitals, Jails, and Coroners

The next step to take is to contact hospitals, jails, and unfortunately even coroners. If your loved one has been involved in an accident, they may be undergoing treatment at a medical facility. Likewise, if they committed a crime without you knowing, they could be detained at a prison. Nobody wants to assume their friend or a family member has passed, but it is still crucial to get in touch with the coroner’s office as well. On a positive note, if the coroner’s office reports that your loved one is not there, you can keep your search going with at least a little bit more hope that they are out there somewhere, and you will find them someday.

Try to Track Their Cellphone

This step only works if you have access to the missing person’s laptop or phone account. Most phones are capable of being tracked from one’s laptop, as cellphone theft has become a common occurrence. If the absentee owns Apple products, for example, you can try to find them through Find my iPhone. Launch the Find my iPhone app through the individual’s laptop or account and the whereabouts of their cell phone should be indicated on a map if the power is on. Google has a similar service, called Find my Device, if the person in question owns an Android phone. If the person’s laptop is locked with a passcode or you do not know how to log into their account, the police may be able to assist you in gaining access to it, especially if the person in question is believed to be in danger.

Stalk Their Social Media

It’s a long shot, but there is a possibility that the person you’re seeking has been active on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. Make sure to check all of their accounts. Perhaps a recent post may indicate their whereabouts. Their last login, in other words, when they were last online may also serve as a hint as to what happened to them. Even posts prior to their disappearance may provide crucial clues: were they posting suspicious status updates? Did something seem off about their behavior leading up to the incident? Anything that can help piece together the mystery can be a big step forward.

Contact The Missing Person’s Social Circle

Hopefully, even if you have no idea where your loved one has gone, someone else will. Try to get in touch with everyone who may have possibly spoken to the absentee before, or maybe even after they went missing. Again, even if none of them have an answer on the whereabouts of this person, they may have clues on where they could have gone. There is a possibility that they spoke to your loved one a day before their disappearance, and noticed something seemed off. Though friends and family of the missing person are an obvious choice, it may also be helpful to contact their workplace, doctors, the eateries they frequent, and so on. They may be able to tell you when they last saw the person in question as well.

Spread the Word

Putting up posters of the missing person with your contact information is the traditional way to go about spreading awareness of the incident, but in this day and age where everything happens online, it is important to put this information up across social media platforms as well. Make posts about this person’s disappearance on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and encourage your friends and family to share the post. Hopefully, this will lead to their friends and family sharing the post as well—reaching people that you may have never gotten in touch with. Eventually, your post may reach a larger audience than it ever would have offline. If your post happens to go viral, this may drastically speed up the process of finding your missing loved one.

Get Them Filed Under NamUs

NamUs, or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is a resource backed by the National Institute of Justice. Once you register your loved one under NamUs, NamUS will give information about your missing person to law enforcement, coroners, and more. This may help you get in contact with numerous institutions regarding your lost family member or friend. If your loved one is found someplace far away, NamUs databases will aid law enforcement in identifying them. Instances where a missing person is found, but nobody knows who they are, are unfortunately quite common. Without a registry in NamUs, the person you are trying to find may become a part of the many unnamed absentees. You can make sure whoever finds your loved one can contact you by providing their information to NamUs.

If All Else Fails, Consider Hiring a Private Detective

This may feel uncomfortable or be financially straining, but if you’ve reached the end of the rope and you feel like you can’t do this on your own, it may be the only option left. While the police may put your case on the back burner while they look into other cases, a private detective will devote themselves to your request and your request only. Make sure you request the services of a credible detective with an extensive history of solved cases. An experienced private detective may know how to locate your loved one better than anyone else. There are certain tactics that private investigators can use that the police cannot. For instance, a private detective can travel across the country to track down a missing person, while police are limited to a more local area and your case would have to travel to different police departments if it is on a national scale. If you feel like law enforcement has neglected your case, this is the way to go.