Whether it be a child, teen or adult, few things are as frightening as a discovering a friend, family member or other loved one has gone missing. When searching for a person, there is often a simple explanation such as a lost cell phone, a car breakdown or a just a case of miscommunication, but there are other times when the situation could be much more serious.

If you think a loved one is missing, it’s best to err on the side of caution. The sooner you act, the better the chances of finding them. The following tips on how to find a missing person will help ensure you’re doing everything in your power to find them.

1. Contact the Police

When you suspect a person is missing, contact local law enforcement immediately. While there may be a waiting period before an official report can filed, notifying the police right away creates an accurate record for the start of an investigation should one prove necessary; especially if it’s a case of a missing child. When you contact law enforcement, be prepared to provide the following information about the missing person:

  • Full name
  • Current age and date of birth
  • Home address and cell phone number
  • Known contacts/school/place of employment
  • Type of vehicle they drive
  • Recent photographs of them
  • What they were wearing at the time of disappearance
  • Lists of physical or mental health conditions and any medications they need
  • Physical description including height, weight, hair color and eye color
  • Distinguishing features (scars, tattoos, birthmarks, piercings)

The more information the police have, the greater the chances of the person being found. Also, ask them to check for any record of the missing person being arrested. If the person has been jailed, your search could end right here.

2. Contact Friends and Known Associates

If the person has a cell phone, keep calling it to try to reach them in case they have just been out of signal range. Reach out to everyone the person might be with and every place the person frequents.

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Classmates
  • School officials
  • Roommates
  • Neighbors

Keep a record of everyone you talk to along with the last time they saw or spoke to the missing person. Remember to monitor your own cell phone messages and social media in case the missing person is trying to reach you.

3. Contact Hospitals

Call local area hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics to see if the person has been admitted. Ask for the person by name first, and if they don’t have a record of them, ask about unidentified patients. Give them a description of the person you are searching for and ask them if it matches and unidentified patients.

4. Use Social Media

Monitor their social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) for recent or new posts that may indicate their current location. Post a message on their social media pages asking them to contact you and asking their contacts for any information regarding their whereabouts.

5. Create Flyers

Print flyers with a clear photograph of the missing individual with your contact information and law enforcement contact information. Make sure you include the missing person’s vital statistics:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • What they were wearing when they went missing
  • Distinguishing features (scars, tattoos, birthmarks, piercings)
  • Where and when they were last seen or heard from

Post the flyers on social media and around the community. Put flyers up along paths the missing person travels regularly like the routes from home to school, work and grocery stores. Someone might have seen them or seen something that could lead to their location.

6. Drive Around Your Local Area

Begin your own search for the missing individual by driving the routes they are known to travel. Get out and walk the neighborhood handing out flyers and talking to people around the missing person’s home, school, work and any other areas they may have frequented. Enlist the help of friends, family and volunteers to help in the search.

7. Check Their Finances

If you have access to the missing individual’s financial information such as bank accounts and transactions, review them. Knowing when they last accessed their accounts and from where strengthens the timeline of their disappearance and may provide clues to their location.

8. Hire a Private Investigator

At some point, you may want to consider hiring a private investigator to find a missing person. When a significant amount of time has passed, law enforcement may have to shift their focus to other cases. Private investigators, on the other hand, can devote themselves entirely to searching for your lost loved one.

Searching for missing persons is never easy. It requires time and effort on behalf of all parties concerned, and the more time and effort put into the search, the more likely there will be a happy ending.