If a friend or loved one goes missing, knowing how to file a missing persons report can save precious time.
In the event of a disappearance, the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours are always the most important. So, the more familiar you are with the process, the quicker you can get the police involved in the search.
That’s why we’ve compiled a must-know list of do’s and don’ts for you to follow when filing a missing persons report. The items below will show you what to expect, what information you need, and how to go about this process as efficiently as possible.
To start, let’s talk about what NOT to do when filing a missing persons report.
- Don’t wait to file a missing persons report.
Contrary to what you see on popular crime shows, there’s no such thing as a 24 to 48 hour waiting period in cases involving children, elderly people, or suspected victims of foul play.
So, as soon as you realize that someone is missing and you suspect something’s wrong, go to your local police station and file a report.
- Don’t put your address or contact information on missing persons flyers.
Unfortunately, people may take advantage of you sharing your personal information on missing persons flyers.
To avoid getting targeted by spammers and scammers, make sure you use a police department contact number when making posters.
- Don’t tamper with their car, phone, bedroom, or social media profiles.
When someone goes missing, the police check everywhere for potential leads.
That means they may search their cars, bedrooms, phones, and social media accounts for any ideas about where they might be.
So, make sure not to clean their personal spaces, and don’t delete any messages or change any information on their phones and social media profiles. They could contain valuable evidence the police can use to find your loved one.
- Stay calm.
Having someone you love go missing can be incredibly stressful, but it’s crucial to stay calm and focus on what you can control.
If you suspect the situation that led to their disappearance is dangerous or they have a medical condition that requires routine maintenance, every second counts.
When you’re calm, you can do what needs to be done to ensure that police, friends, and family are on the search with you.
- Have the following information ready to go…
The more information the police have about what the person looks like, the easier they’ll be to identify. Any and all identifying features are helpful, such as:
- Eye color
- Hair color
- What they were last seen wearing (if you know)
However, as helpful as a detailed description can be, photos are much better.
Bring as many photos as you can, and make sure to share any other relevant information like where they were last seen, who they were last seen with, if they’re in medical danger, or if they’re mentally or physically impaired in some way.
- Be ready to provide additional information the police might need.
In some cases, the police may ask for additional information such as social media accounts, bank statements, cell phone records, and even dental records and DNA samples.
They may not need these things from you, but it’s important to know what to expect in case they do.
- After you’ve filed your report, keep your phone handy.
When you file a missing persons report, the police will typically assign you or another involved party as the point of contact. That way, if they have any updates on the case, they have someone to call.
If they designate you as the liaison, always keep your phone on you, keep it set to loud, and make sure it stays charged. The last thing you want is to miss a call from the police with critical information about your missing person.
- Know what to expect if the missing person is an adult.
If an adult family member or friend has gone missing, be aware that it’s perfectly legal for someone to purposely go “missing” and drop out of contact with you.
In these cases, the police are only required to tell you that the person of interest has been found, not where they are or what they’re doing.
Stay Strong, & Keep Trying
These situations are never easy, but it’s so important to keep pushing.
The police and those closest to you are there to help, and if you follow the guidelines in this list, you can get the word out as quickly as possible.
For other emergencies like fires, home invasions, and medical emergencies, you can guarantee rapid response with the Rescu app.
In just two taps on your phone, you can skip the typical questions you get from 911 dispatchers — which can take several minutes to answer — avoid being placed on hold, and get the help you need right away.
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