Thursday, February 1, 2018

Finding a Missing Person

Quite often on Las Vegas social media (Facebook/Reddit/NextDoor/Twitter/etc) you will see posts from people looking for a missing loved one.  Initially they think that if they just call the police they will have an entire task force dedicated to finding their missing loved one but it doesn't actually work that way.  Considering that more than 200 people go missing each month from Las Vegas (and that there are thousands of other crimes going on in the city on any given day), the police will take a report but the actual finding of the person often rests with others (family and friends, private investigators, the public).  Here is how to go about finding a missing person:
  • Collect information pertinent to a missing person investigation immediately, if not ahead of time.  Here is a form to use, here is a similar form.  Also, have several recent photos of the person available as well as video clips of them if possible.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agency (city police, county sheriff, tribal police, military police, etc) and file a missing person report.  They will usually have a website with additional information about reporting someone missing.
  • Begin a search for the person.  Here are some resources for missing posters, etc.  You will also want to call their friends, and do other basic searches (of their social media, credit card use, and phone ping if possible).  There are several checklists of what to do immediately after someone goes missing here, here, and here.
  • If the missing person is a child, there are guidelines for getting an Amber Alert issued.
  • If you are using the public to help you search, have missing person posters and photos on hand.  Be sure the poster includes the police issued case number as well as who to contact (phone number, email address, website if one is set up, etc) and as much descriptive information about the missing person as possible.
  • Public entities that may help in your search: local media (TV news, radio news, local websites), social media (Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/NextDoor/Instagram/etc), the local Search and Rescue team, canvassing homes/schools/businesses near where the person was last seen, etc. 
  • For searches that go long-term, consider these ideas.

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