Discovering that a loved one is missing is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. If this happens, you can help by gathering information before contacting the police department. Having this information ready to go will help make sure that the police department understands the nature of the report and that you get the help you are requesting. We know you are in a frightening situation, but it is critically important that you try to remain calm when filing your report. It is very hard to get important details of the situation when someone is frantic and unclear.
It is important to have clear and specific information for the police that explains reasons you believe the person is missing. Checking with the missing person’s workplace, family members, friends, and usual hang-outs before contacting law enforcement will help the police who will be searching for the missing person. Once you have checked thoroughly with these people and locations, please have one person contact the police. If you are too upset to answer questions, have someone who is calmer contact law enforcement and try to have all of the information ready.
Information that will help the police when you report someone missing:
- What out of the ordinary event or situation leads you to believe this person is in danger/missing? For example, does this person always bring their phone, keys, wallet or purse everywhere they go and they have left it at home? Please provide as much detail regarding the curious circumstances as well any other details.
- Please inform the police department of the person’s possible mental state. Are they a potential danger to themselves or others? Are they known to carry weapons on their person?
- Informing the police of any medical concerns is another important piece of information. Does the missing person have any chronic medical concerns that may present a threat to themselves or others if unmanaged? Are there any medications this person normally takes that they will miss/ have already missed? Does this person have a history of mental illness? Do they require regular treatment for any condition, medical or emotional?
- When was this person last seen? How long have they been considered missing?
- Please have a detailed physical description prepared. Include gender, ethnicity, height, weight, age, hair color and any distinguishing marks such as tattoos or birthmarks. Also, if the information is available, provide a description of the clothing the individual was wearing when they were last seen. If you have one or two clear and recent photographs available, consider providing these to the police as soon as possible.
Important information for you to know:
- There is no waiting period for filing a missing persons report. As soon as you have legitimate cause to believe your loved one is missing, file a report.
- The more clearly stated facts you provide the police, the more effectively the police can help.
- Reporting someone missing does not necessarily mean you will be informed when they are found. The missing person has the right to request confidentiality, particularly if he/she is an adult.
- If the person returns on their own, please inform police immediately.